Abortion Pill Reversal: Fact or Fiction? The Science Behind It

The scientific community continues to debate the validity of the abortion pill reversal. It sounds like a wild idea, doesn’t it? How can an abortion be reversed once it’s already started? And why would anyone even want that option? Keep reading! We’re going to explore some of the research and reasoning behind the option of abortion pill reversal, and some tools you can use to make an informed decision.

Abortion Options

Abortion is a procedure used to terminate a pregnancy. Although abortion laws vary across the United States, in Massachusetts you can access an abortion up to 24 weeks gestation, with some exceptions later than that. There are two types of abortion procedures, those being surgical abortion and medical abortion. Surgical abortion is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: you go to a clinic, and a medical professional performs a surgery to remove the pregnancy from your uterus. This type of abortion, once it has been performed, obviously cannot be reversed. 

The term medical abortion, also called chemical abortion, refers to the abortion pill. The abortion pill is growing in popularity, with data showing more than half of abortions in the United States now being via the pill (1). The abortion pill is a two-part series. The first pill, mifepristone, blocks progesterone from the pregnancy. Progesterone is a naturally occurring hormone in the female body that is necessary for her pregnancy to grow. The second pill, misoprostol, causes cramping and pushes the pregnancy out of the body through the vagina. The pills are taken up to 48 hours apart. However, in between the ingestion of the first and second pill, there is the possibility of the process being reversed.

But How Can the Abortion Pill be Reversed?

Abortion pill reversal is possible within 72 hours of having taken the first abortion pill, before having ingested the second. How? A licensed medical provider can prescribe a bio-identical progesterone to outnumber the mifepristone–the first pill–and eliminate its effects (2). 

In simpler terms: you took a pill to block progesterone from your pregnancy. Progesterone is what keeps your pregnancy nourished. Even though it’s not being fed, the pregnancy is still inside your uterus. So what do you do? You take a ton of progesterone to make up for the fact that the progesterone your body is producing has been blocked. This keeps your pregnancy well-fed, allowing it the potential to continue. You will have to go to receive an ultrasound after taking the abortion pill reversal to confirm that your pregnancy did in fact survive. You will need to check for a heartbeat, placement, and dating of the pregnancy.

Abortion Pill Reversal FAQs: Is There Any Evidence it Works? Is It Safe?

Is there any evidence that the abortion pill reversal works? 

  • Yes, there is! Some studies have been done to test the results of abortion pill reversal protocol. For example, in 2018, Dr. George Delgado completed a peer-reviewed study that was then published in the Issues of Law and Medicine journal. The objective of this study was to analyze a series of women who used supplemental progesterone to try to reverse the effects of mifepristone, determining if the reversal was possible, safe, and effective. 754 patients were observed. The results? There was a 64-68% success rate in safely reversing the effects of mifepristone using supplemental progesterones. 
  • These statistics matched a 2017 study published in The European Journal of Contraception & Reproductive Health Care that followed three cases. The cases were: 1) A 28-year-old woman, 6 weeks plus 1 day gestation, 2) a 35-year-old woman, 8 weeks plus 5 days gestation, 3) a 27-year-old woman; 7 weeks plus 3 days gestation. The results were: 1) a healthy birth at 39 weeks gestation, 2) a healthy birth at term, and 3) a completed medical abortion. This two-thirds success rate aligns with the more extensive 2018 study  by Dr. Delgado.

Is abortion pill reversal safe? 

  • Yes, it is! In the previously cited studies, no increase in birth defects were demonstrated among participants. Neither was there harm to the pregnant woman. In cases where the abortion reversal protocol has been unsuccessful, the end result has been a completed medical abortion. 
  • Progesterone use in early pregnancy is low risk, and it has been a common medical practice to support healthy pregnancies since the 1950s. Today, it is used to reduce the risk of premature delivery and of recurrent miscarriage (3). Two different studies published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2020 demonstrated that progesterone can be a potential treatment for women whose past miscarriages and bleeding resulted from their body producing low levels of progesterone (4). 
  • In short, progesterone is a common treatment for women at risk of losing their early pregnancy for various reasons. Scientific research has shown that it is a safe and legitimate option.

Why do so many organizations (like Planned Parenthood) claim abortion pill reversal is illegitimate? 

  • Abortion pill reversal is still a relatively new phenomenon, with its first known usage being in 2007. Although various studies have been conducted and thousands of babies have been successfully and healthily delivered using the protocol, there are many organizations and medical professionals who still do not consider these studies to be adequate or sufficient. It is important to evaluate the scientific research and anecdotal evidence available to make an informed decision about the abortion pill reversal and its legitimacy. In time, more studies will be conducted and more evidence put forward to determine the legitimacy of this practice.

Since its first usage, thousands of babies have been healthily delivered using abortion pill reversal protocol.

Why Would Anyone Want to Reverse the Abortion Pill?

When having this conversation, it’s important to think first of the women who are going through this experience. 

Every pregnant woman is different–some planned their pregnancies, some did not. 

Some are in a loving relationship, some are not. 

Some have a financial safety net, some do not. 

Some have religious beliefs about abortion, some do not. 

Some are confident in what they want for their pregnancy, and others are not. 

Having an abortion is a big decision. It is a medical procedure, but it’s also one that can have emotional and psychological impact. Abortion can also affect every person differently. No one’s abortion experience is exactly the same. 

If a pregnancy was unplanned, and the circumstances around it are not positive, it can lead to a person feeling very emotionally vulnerable. Sometimes, that means decisions are made while that person is still in fight-or-flight mode. So it is important to show compassion–if someone is feeling uncertain about her decision, she may change her mind multiple times. Sometimes, she comes to her final conclusion before the termination of pregnancy. Other times, she realizes after that she actually wanted something different. 

It’s important to never invalidate any woman’s experience. This is her pregnancy, her story, and she has to walk through her journey. If she changes her mind after starting a medication abortion, there is a safe possibility for reversal. Most often, the 24/7 Abortion Pill Reversal Hotline is used to find abortion pill reversal providers near a given location. 

Making an Informed Decision

There are many sources of information out there, and they don’t all agree with each other. In many ways, it may feel like too many to know what’s true and what isn’t. It’s important to look at studies from various perspectives on an issue, to make sure those studies were peer-reviewed and legitimate, and to give space for nuance. At the end of the day, you have to decide for yourself, using evidence, what you think about any issue, including this one. 

At Clearway Clinic, we work hard to provide up-to-date, evidence-based information about all the options available to you. If you are pregnant and unsure about your options, schedule an appointment today for a free pregnancy test, ultrasound, and options education. All appointments are free and confidential. We are here for you no matter what!

Reviewed by Lynn B., BSN, RN

  1. See https://www.guttmacher.org/article/2022/02/medication-abortion-now-accounts-more-half-all-us-abortions for more info.
  2. See https://lozierinstitute.org/abortion-pill-reversal-a-record-of-safety-and-efficacy/ for more info.
  3. See https://lozierinstitute.org/abortion-pill-reversal-a-record-of-safety-and-efficacy/#_ftn19 for more info.
  4. See https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27225013/ ; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32609084/  for more info.

Schedule an appointment

Clearway Women's Health Clinic - Pregnancy & STI Appointments Available

A member of our team will contact you within 30 minutes if requesting an appointment during normal business hours.

Monday through Friday: 9am-03:30pm

Worcester Clinic

Springfield Clinic