Iowa pregnancy center sees first Abortion Pill Reversal

Cradle of Hope Pregnancy Resource Center

Her boyfriend pressured her into having an abortion. Kelci’s significant other threatened her if she didn’t take the pill given to her at the abortion clinic. So, she complied. However, that was not what she wanted to do, and she reached out for help.

Peggy Knudson, founder and executive director of Cradle of Hope Pregnancy Resource Center in Iowa, recalled the text she received from Kelci one night in January 2024. Kelci had told Knudson how her partner had made her go for the abortion, and she was afraid of him.

The young woman had reached out to Cradle a few days earlier via another Iowa organization that sought to bring Kelci to a safe women’s shelter. Knudson wanted to help her then but unfortunately a blizzard kept the two women apart. She had told Kelci about Abortion Pill Reversal at that time, in case the young woman’s boyfriend forced her to go to an abortion facility.

“I asked, ‘Did you go today [to an abortion clinic]?” Knudson told Pregnancy Help News. “She said, ‘Yes, at 4 p.m.’”

Despite another major snowstorm, Knudson and her husband traveled more than two hours to bring Kelci to Cradle of Hope’s Mother’s Home.

“All the way there, we talked to the 800 number (for the Abortion Pill Rescue Network),” Knudson said. “She had a 10-month-old, so we picked her and the baby up, packed them up in the truck, and drove home in a blizzard. On the way home, I contacted the overseeing doctor for Cradle, and I said, ‘Listen, there is nobody in southeast Iowa that is providing abortion reversal – we have to do this,’ and he goes, ‘Okay.’”

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Arriving at the Mother’s Home around midnight, the Knudsons settled in Kelci and her child with plans to have an ultrasound done in the morning to ensure the baby in her womb still had a heartbeat.

“It had snowed all night … and the driveway to the Mother’s Home was snowed shut, so I called my snowplow guy, and I said, ‘Listen, I know you're packed – I know you have a lot of customers, but I need to get a Mama out of that house. Would you please go there – it was like eight in the morning -- and scoop out that driveway?’ And he did!”

Kelci received the ultrasound, and though the baby’s heart rate was low, the unborn child was “very actively moving,” Knudson said. Kelci obtained a prescription for progesterone, as per the APR protocol, and began taking the hormone. At her next ultrasound, her baby’s heartbeat was strong. She is due in July.

‘A team effort’

Knudson said many people were part of Kelci’s successful abortion pill reversal.

“It truly took a team effort to save this baby's life,” she said.

Such is the work of pregnancy help, centers working alongside other organizations to help pregnant women in need, said Tracie Shellhouse, vice president of Ministry Services at Heartbeat International.

Tweet This: Pregnancy help centers work alongside other organizations to help pregnant women in need, truly a team effort

“Cradle of Hope and the connection of other agencies being involved in making sure that she (Kelci) received the support and resources that she needed – that is very indicative of what you can expect with pregnancy help,” Shellhouse said. “Pregnancy help centers have been networking and working together [with other organizations] for decades.”

The OB who conducted Kelci’s ultrasound is now a proponent of APR.

“I said, “I want you to consider doing this for me every time we have somebody who needs this,’ and she goes, ‘Yeah, I've been really thinking about it ever since you told me,’” Knudson said.

Kelci stayed at the Mother’s Home for several weeks. She was able to move out, obtain an apartment and care for herself and her young child, and she is highly anticipating the birth of her baby girl, Knudson said. Kelci was one of the women featured in a client video for Cradle of Hope’s spring gala.

“She stays in touch. In fact, she sent us a picture of her 29-week ultrasound,” Knudson said.

Providing resources for women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy helps those women choose life and make a connection with the pregnancy help organization, Shellhouse said.

“We are all always looking to see what resources each organization provides and how we can best ensure that those who are seeking care are able to receive it,” she said.


Cradle of Hope Pregnancy Resource Center

One of thousands of lives saved

Kelci’s pregnancy adds to the growing number of unborn lives saved through APR. Data show anywhere from 63% to an upwards of 80% of all abortions today are through the abortion pill, according to the recently-released Life Trends Report published by Heartbeat International. In a chemical abortion, a woman takes two pills, mifepristone and misoprostol. Many chemical abortions are done without medical oversight, ordered over the Internet, and alone, jeopardizing women’s physical and emotional health.

“The battleground has become every smart device and every mailbox throughout our nation, whether you're in an urban area or whether you're in living in the countryside,” Shellhouse told Pregnancy Help News.

However, even after taking the first pill, mifepristone, a woman still has a choice; she can try to stop the chemical abortion through APR and a prescription of progesterone.

An estimated 1,875 APR starts took place last year, a 43 percent increase from 2020. A reversal start happens when a woman receives a referral to a provider, the provider determines that she is a candidate for abortion pill reversal, and that woman has received a prescription for treatment. In 2023, 10 abortion reversal starts took place in Iowa, up from seven the previous year.

More than 5,000 babies have been saved from abortion since APR began in 2012.

Tweet This: A pregnancy help center in Iowa had its first APR case and is also helping the APR mom with maternity housing

Abortion coercion not rare

Like Kelci, women are often coerced to abort. The Life Trends Report cited a report issued last year by the Charlotte Lozier Institute, a study published in the medical journal Cureus, which indicated that one in four women are pressured into an abortion by family or significant others.

“This study confirms earlier findings that the hidden epidemic of unwanted abortions is real, and far larger than most people imagine,” lead author David Reardon said at the time. Reardon is a Charlotte Lozier Institute associate scholar and the director of the Elliot Institute.

“They [Cradle of Hope] are meeting very unique needs that women have,” Shellhouse said. “Through APR they were able to save the life of Kelci’s baby and through the maternity home they provided for the mother and her young child that care and support that women deserve and that should be made available to them, especially when they feel that they are alone, especially when they feel that they don't have a place to turn, and they are potentially being persuaded or coerced into having abortions that they do not want.”

Knudson said she is thankful to be able to help Kelci and also thankful for everyone who helped in the situation, from the organization across the state to the pharmacist who filled the prescription, the OB who conducted the ultrasounds, and her husband who drove through a blizzard to bring Kelci and her toddler to the Mother’s Home. She looks forward to helping more women through APR.

“What do you do when they reach out and say, ‘I want to save my child'? I mean I know what to do, and we are pretty excited about it,” she said.

Editor’s note: Heartbeat International manages the Abortion Pill Rescue® Network and Pregnancy Help News. This article has been updated to clarify the statistic denoting chemical abortion in the U.S.

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