Editorial - Abortion Pill Reversal - Stop Press

Catholic Medical Association in the news

The Catholic Medical Association featured in the Mail on Sunday (25th April) [1] for the work of some of its members (and others) in supporting women who wanted to keep their babies after having taken the first (Mifepristone 200 mg ) part of medical abortions. Since the start of lockdown last year, many women have sought help regarding abortion pill reversal.

The reader should be aware that abortion pill reversal services are not advertised in the UK and we are bound to think that if such services were available many more women would seek help.

The Mail on Sunday reported that “Women who suddenly change their minds after taking the abortion pill are turning to a controversial treatment in a bid to keep their babies. Doctors at the Catholic Medical Association (CMA) have treated 90 women in Britain with its 'abortion rescue therapy' in the past year and say almost 50 per cent have maintained their pregnancies.

Without Progesterone rescue treatment the survival rate for pregnancies (if the second Misoprostol pill is not taken) is much lower. NHS England told the Mail that the chance of pregnancy continuing is between eight and 40 per cent. Dr Kearney told the Mail on Sunday that without progesterone survival is about 25%.

 Dr Dermot Kearney, our President, told the Mail that 'Since last April, 141 women have contacted the abortion pill rescue programme, of whom 90 started progesterone treatment to reverse the lethal effects of the first abortion pill, mifepristone. Of 73 who continued treatment, 38 have managed to hold on to their pregnancies – a success rate of around 50 per cent.

'So far, ten women have delivered healthy babies, while 28 are still pregnant.'

But the College of Obstetricians said that “There is very little evidence to show that a treatment with progesterone will reverse an abortion, and what this is doing is providing false reassurance to women that this is a possible option – which is very distressing for the women involved.' We are inclined to think that studies by Dr Delgado[2] and others substantially question that view.

The article in the Mail also stated that “University of California researchers last year abandoned a trial into the effects of taking progesterone after mifepristone over safety concerns. The team warned of a 'high risk of significant haemorrhage'” Actually, looking at that study [3], we note that the study was terminated early (after recruiting only 12 patients) because three women required hospitalisation for haemorrhage. But further reading shows that two of those women were on placebo and only one (again treated with placebo) required transfusion. The trial was stopped due to safety concerns, although we note that gestational survival to 2 weeks was 4/5 for the progesterone group and 2/5 for the placebo group. Two women had withdrawn “for subjective symptoms (nausea and vomiting, bleeding).” So in this (tiny) trial which was stopped early due to safety concerns mainly among the placebo arm, the Progesterone arm of the trial did rather better.

The large number of women seeking help, despite this service not being advertised etc, really does suggest a real need to help women who are choosing to keep their pregnancies. To be pro-life is to give women that option and to support them at a time of crisis. Those who refuse to help (including the College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) appear to be anti-choice. Please pray that the evidence base will develop further, enabling such treatments to become firmly established as safe and compassionate treatments which respond to the needs of women in crisis. Finally, let’s thank and salute those who are developing this option for women in their hour of need.


  1. Adams S, Doctors using 'rescue therapy' treatment that reverses abortion pill are accused of having scant evidence it works and told it may be dangerous. Mail on Sunday. 25thApril 2021. www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9508421/Doctorsusing-rescue-therapy-treatment-reverses-abortionpill-
  2. George Delgado et al. (2018) A case series detailing the successful reversal of the effects of mifepristone using progesterone. Issues Law Med
  3. Creinin M, Hou M, Dalton L et al (2020) Mifepristone Antagonization With Progesterone to Prevent Medical Abortion: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Obstet Gynecol. 2020 Jan;135(1):158-165.