Investigative

Reversing RU-486: Mothers tell stories of hope

As soon as Rebekah Chaveste swallowed the RU-486 pill at a Planned Parenthood clinic, she regretted it. “I was crying and I was alone,” recalled Chaveste, a 20-year-college student who lives in the Sacramento area. “Thank God for smartphones,” she told Catholic San Francisco. Sitting in her car outside the Planned Parenthood, “I googled RU-486” and found a website for RU-486 reversals, AbortionPillReversal.com.

Chaveste thought it was fake, but called anyway and even though the website was for an organization based in San Diego, the woman on the other end of the telephone found a doctor nearby to help her, Chaveste recalled.

Abortionpillreversal.com is a website of Culture of Life Family Services which has a nurse on call 24/7, a toll-free telephone number (877) 558-0333, and a network of 200 participating physicians around the country.

Miraculously Chaveste was able to save her baby – because of a recently developed medical protocol that has been able to save more than half of babies whose mothers had been administered the first pill for a RU-486 chemical abortion and received the reversal therapy. Chaveste’s son Zechariah turns 1 on Oct. 20.

The conventional wisdom of the abortion industry is that there is no way to stop the RU-486 procedure once it is started. This, however, turns out to be false. Chemical abortions can be reversed and the procedure has been effective in more than 23 states to date, including California,” said Vicki Evans, Archdiocese of San Francisco respect life coordinator. The San Diego-based Abortion Pill Reversal Program has also helped women in six foreign countries.

“There have been more than 50 deliveries of healthy babies with no birth defects after the reversal protocol and more than 100 other women are pregnant with apparently normal pregnancies after successful reversals,” said Dr. George Delgado, medical director of the Abortion Pill Reversal Program. Delgado is co-author with Bay Area obstetrician Dr. Mary Davenport of a medical journal article on RU-486 reversals, “Progesterone Use to Reverse the Effects of Mifepristone,” published in The Annals of Pharmacotherapy, December 2012.

Rebekah Chaveste is pictured with her son Zechariah, who was born after Chaveste was treated with progesterone to counteract RU-486.

Rebekah Chaveste is pictured with her son Zechariah, who was born after Chaveste was treated with progesterone to counteract RU-486.

Delgado developed the protocol now in use. Davenport, of El Sobrante, is immediate past president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Delgado is the medical director of the Abortion Pill Reversal Program and Culture of Life in San Diego.

RU-486 was hailed and is still touted as the answer to those seeking a discreet, safe abortion in the first nine weeks of pregnancy. RU-486, also known as mifepristone, is always administered in a clinic or doctor’s office. It blocks progesterone and the lining of the uterus breaks down making it inhospitable to the developing embryo. The second drug, misoprostol, causes uterine contractions to expel the fetus and is taken about two days later at home. Misoprostol has been shown to cause birth defects in a small number of women, Davenport said.

Women who choose medical abortion and regret it within the first two days before they take the second drug have a chance to save their baby, Davenport said. The RU-486 reversal procedure has been successful in 59 percent of cases from May 2012 to June 2014, according to statistics collected by the Abortion Pill Reversal Program, headed by Delgado and nurse manager Debbie Bradel.

With RU-486 reversal, doctors administer mega doses of progesterone to counter the effects of RU-486. The progesterone megadoses act as an antidote to mifepristone, replacing the progesterone that the mifepristone blocks. Davenport and Delgado both trained in NaPro Technology, a pro-life fertility method, at the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction in Omaha, Neb.

Since RU-486 was approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration in 2000, medical abortions rose to about 23 percent of all abortions in 2011, according to the Guttmacher Institute’s July 2014 abortion fact sheet. There are about 200,000 RU-486 abortions each year in the U.S. Although Planned Parenthood tells women, and states on its website, that trying to halt the RU-486 procedure will result in a deformed baby, that does not appear to be true in the babies born after progesterone RU-486 reversal therapy, Davenport and Delgado said. “The medical literature does not reflect that RU-486 causes birth defects and we know that progesterone reversal therapy does not cause birth defects,” Delgado said.

Dr. Matthew Harrison, a pro-life doctor in Charlotte, N.C., was the first to successfully reverse RU-486 about eight years ago for 20-year-old Ashley. Ashley and her little daughter appeared at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., last January. The St. Juan Diego Women’s Center in San Jose has launched a campaign to publicize the RU-486 reversal to those who enter the Planned Parenthood clinics, many of whom come for RU-486 abortions.

“We stand outside the abortion clinics and tell them it is not too late to change their minds,” said St. Juan Diego sidewalk counselor Patsy Gonzalez. The RU-486 reversal protocol has energized the center’s volunteers, many of whom are Spanish-speakers and reach out to the Latino women who come to the clinics, Gonzalez said. “A core strategy of St. Juan Diego is to develop sidewalk counselors outside the abortion mills,” Gonzalez said. “Your chances of helping a woman are much better outside the abortion mills.”

“When you regret taking the first pill, Planned Parenthood tells you, you have to finish what you started; tells you that you are going to have a deformed baby,” remembered Chaveste, who said she hopes that emergency rooms and hospitals would stock the large doses of progesterone necessary for RU-486 reversal. “It was so great and life-changing” to be able to save her son, Chaveste said. “I know I cannot be the only one who could have taken that and had a regret.”

Rebekah Chaveste and another woman who successfully delivered babies after receiving the RU-486 reversal therapy will tell their stories at the St. Juan Diego 28th anniversary banquet Oct. 25 in Santa Clara. Visit jdwcenter.org. For help after taking RU-486, visit abortionpillreversal.com.  

How RU-486 works

The abortion pill works in a two-step process. On the first day the pill, called mifepristone or methotrexate, originally developed for chemotherapy, is taken. The pill blocks the hormone progesterone, which is necessary to sustain pregnancy. Without progesterone the lining of the uterus breaks down, the cervix softens, and bleeding begins. On the third day a second drug, misoprostol, is taken. This drug induces labor by causing uterine contractions along with thinning of the cervix. If the embryo is not expelled by day 14, a surgical abortion must be performed.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the October 3, 2014 issue of Catholic San Francisco, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. It can be found online here, and is reprinted with permission.

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