A medical conference in Dublin has heard that abortion pill reversal – where the effects of the abortion pill are reversed by giving the pregnant woman extra progesterone – has already been safely and successfully provided in Ireland. 

The conference, which was attended by health care professionals from Ireland and Northern Ireland, sought to appraise the international evidence and data relating to reversal of the abortion pill.

Health care professionals indicated that a growing number of women were seeking information about reversing the effects of the abortion pill. Women who had taken the first pill of the two-step abortion process and then changed their mind, wanted to know if they could be assisted in continuing with their pregnancy.

An Irish doctor said that he had successfully treated a woman who had taken the abortion pill in Ireland by prescribing the use of progesterone. The effects of the abortion pill had been reversed and the woman was continuing with her pregnancy.

Progesterone is regularly used in maternal healthcare settings to help prevent miscarriage. It has been safely used in pregnancy for over 50 years.

Most abortions in Ireland are expected to be carried out by the provision of the abortion pill, which is now widely available through GP surgeries.

The chemical abortion process consists of two pills; the first, mifepristone blocks the effects of progesterone, the natural hormone in a pregnant mother’s body necessary for her pregnancy to thrive. The drug then causes the uterine lining to break down and the placenta to fail, thus starving the growing baby of oxygen and nutrients.

The second pill, misoprostol, normally taken one to two days later, completes the abortion, by causing contractions and the expulsion of the deceased baby.

The Abortion Pill Reversal protocol works by giving the mother extra progesterone up to 72 hours after she takes the first chemical abortion drug, mifepristone. The treatment has the best chance for success when begun within 24 hours, according to practitioners.

Christa Brown, a nurse working with Heartbeat International, said the network had successfully and safely reversed more than a thousand abortions using the protocol, while over 500 medical practitioners had signed up to provide abortion pill reversal.

Obstetrician Dr William Lile said that the outcome sought by abortion pill reversal was a healthy mother and a healthy baby. He said the protocol was safe and used hormonal treatment which had been licensed for decades.

The conference heard that while the intent of the abortion pill, mifepristone, is to stop the body supporting the growth of the unborn baby, studies have shown that mifepristone does not appear to cause birth defects if the pregnancy is continued. Birth defects after abortion pill reversal are expected to be no higher than in the general population, the conference heard.