Critics of abortion reversal have “perfected obfuscation and paternalism”

By Dave Andrusko


This is the last post of the day and, as such, will be less analysis and more summary. To get the full picture, let me strongly encourage you to read, “The Abortion Reversal ‘Witch Hunt’: Dismissing this ‘junk science’ has ethical and moral implications” by Philip Reed.

By way of introduction to the topic, pro-abortionists loathe anything that (a) slows down the abortion freight train and/or (b) suggests the unimaginable (to them): that women actually may regret their abortions.

But what if that regret is before the abortion is completed? A growing percentage of abortions are chemical abortions (RU-486) which involve ingesting two drugs.

What if after taking the first drug (mifepristone), she changes her mind over the next 24-48 hours? She “flood[s] her body with progesterone to try save the pregnancy,” to quote Mr. Reed, an associate professor of philosophy at Canisius College in New York. (She also doesn’t take the second drug, misoprostol. More about that below.)

Supporters of abortion reversal believe the evidence is growing that counteracting the effect of the mifepristone by ingesting large amounts of progesterone is part of a strategy that will save a sizeable number of babies. Critics dismiss the effectiveness of administering large quantities of progesterone, hint it could be dangerous to the woman, and excoriate the motives of those who are doing so.

Prof. Reed’s point is not to argue who has the best case about this one aspect of abortion reversal–the effectiveness of the additional progesterone.

Abortion reversal critics, he writes

go a step further and accuse their opponents of ideology and junk science, while refusing to acknowledge their own biases. (Daniel Grossman, for example, has a long record of research that aims to expand access to abortion.) They paint themselves as models of objectivity and credibility and their opponents as wackos and rubes. Meanwhile, they ignore the fact that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. And they exaggerate the negative effects of administering progesterone, which is already an FDA approved drug that is commonly used in other contexts and rarely has significant side effects.

The more important point obscured by reporting on this issue is that even if what critics say is true about the ineffectiveness of progesterone as a mechanism for abortion reversal, it inadvertently proves that there is a legitimate procedure that might reverse an abortion, namely by interrupting the two-drug sequence and not taking the second drug [misoprostol]. It is not a “theoretical” option; women who wish to reverse their medication abortions must refuse the misoprostol and wait and see if the pregnancy continues. [Underlining added.]

As I said at the beginning, the entire essay is very much worth reading. Here is Prof. Reed’s trenchant conclusion:

In cases where changing a choice is possible, we extend the opportunity to do so on the basis of protecting that choice as fully coming from the agent’s will. Even if no woman ever did want to reverse her abortion, there would still be an important reason to inform her that she perhaps can. The fact that abortion reversal critics are not only unwilling to do this when it comes to medication abortions, but even campaign actively against it shows that, for all their rhetoric, they are ultimately not pro-choice, but pro-abortion. They pay lip service to allowing women to make their own decisions, but refuse to inform them honestly about the nature of those decisions.

Only one side of this controversy has perfected obfuscation and paternalism. The case against informing women about abortion reversal would be laughable if the issue weren’t so serious.