The latest frontier in abortion opposition — the myth of the “abortion reversal pill” — has migrated north.
In October, the annual Canadian Physicians for Life Conference welcomed San Diego’s Dr. George Delgado to speak to 150 members in attendance, describing his research on the use of progesterone to reverse a two-pill chemical abortion after the first (mifepristone) pill has been taken.
There’s just one problem: doctors who aren’t approaching the science with an anti-abortion agenda see absolutely no evidence that “reverse abortion” is possible or advisable.
In fact, the American Medical Association has gone so far as to sue the state of North Dakota to block a law requiring doctors to discuss this unproven claim with patients as if it were scientific fact.
All the same, Delgado claims that he’s aware of more than 900 pregnancies carried to term following a successful abortion reversal using progesterone. He bases this claim on information provided by Abortion Pill Rescue, an organization he founded that currently operates under the auspices of Heartbeat International, who insist “no woman should ever feel forced to finish an abortion she regrets.”
This emphasis on the freedom to change one’s mind has led to anti-abortion physicians and activists weaponizing the language of choice to make their unscientific claims seem acceptable.
It’s a savvy move, even if it’s fundamentally dishonest.
Former Canadian Physicians for Life president Dr. Will Johnston provided an important example of this in an interview with the National Post, when he accused the medical establishment of being anti-woman in their refusal to endorse abortion reversal pills:
People who might be opposed to Abortion Pill Rescue seem to have forgotten their entire purpose of promoting choice for women. Why would you say that once a woman takes a pill I approve of that she loses her choice to try to reverse its effect if she changes her mind? It’s just illogical, and it’s unfeeling and uncaring toward women.
That kind of logic is based in misogyny, says Dr. Alice Mark, medical director of the National Abortion Federation. It relies on the idea that women (and those perceived as such) cannot be trusted to know their own minds, that they make hasty and unwise choices that they will later regret — that they “need to be protected from their own decision.”
Those perceptions matter in Canada, where threatening to re-open the abortion debate is politically unpopular. If anti-abortion groups hope to make any headway, they need to frame abortion clinics as controlling, domineering, agenda-driven, and fundamentally anti-woman.
The reality is that the vast majority of abortion seekers are certain of their decision, and what they most need from their doctors is accurate, science-based medical information.
(Image via Shutterstock)