The abortion pill accounts for more than 1/3 of all U.S. abortions, a percentage that has increased in recent years and remains on the rise. Chemical abortion, or medication abortion, consists of two drugs. The first drug, mifepristone (RU-486), blocks progesterone, the natural hormone in the mother’s body that is necessary for a pregnancy to thrive. The second drug, misoprostol, taken a day or so later, expels the deceased baby. The effects of the first abortion pill can sometimes be reversed through abortion pill reversal (APR), if medical intervention is sought within the first 72 hours, with the best results in the first 24 hours.
Aid for Women Pregnancy Care Centers have provided APR support in their Chicagoland centers for the past five years, and they have found the number of women needing help has increased during the coronavirus pandemic.
In early March, a young woman named Olivia reached out to the Abortion Pill Rescue Network helpline after being pressured into an abortion. She was connected to Aid for Women, and they helped her start a progesterone reversal regimen. She is now more than 10 weeks along in a healthy pregnancy.
Aid for Women’s Assistant Director Frances Jimenez recently answered questions for Pregnancy Help News’ Sarah Bowler about offering APR support during the pandemic.
How has Aid for Women continued to serve women during the coronavirus pandemic?
Aid for Women’s pregnancy centers and maternity homes have continued operations during COVID-19 because we know that pregnant women are more at risk for abortion than ever before here on the front line of the abortion battle in Chicago.
Tweet This: Our pregnancy centers/maternity homes have continued operations because we know pregnant women are more @risk for abortion than ever before
Our centers continue to provide critical life-saving services, including our 24/7 helplines, one-on-one crisis support, ultrasound exams and abortion pill reversal. We are now offering our pregnancy and parenting classes virtually over the internet and phone, which has been wonderfully successful in keeping our clients engaged and thinking positively about their pregnancies. Our two maternity homes continue to provide safe and nurturing homes for homeless pregnant woman, mothers and their babies.
In what ways are women more vulnerable during this time?
The heightened media coverage of new coronavirus cases and deaths, along with experiencing unprecedented isolation, financial problems, job loss, health concerns, strained relationships, homelessness, no access to prenatal care and uncertainty about the future can make any pregnant woman especially vulnerable at this time (“This is the most awful time to be pregnant. How can I think of having a baby now?”)
Women in the Chicago metropolitan, considered a COVID-19 “hot spot,” are especially vulnerable because of the easy access to abortion services in our city and state, which also draws abortion-seeking women from surrounding states and with the abortion industry promoting abortion as an “essential service” during the pandemic.
Approximately how many women do you typically see utilizing APR? Has that number been on the rise during the pandemic?
In the past month or so during COVID-19, our centers have experienced an increased number of pregnant women reaching out to us for help. Not only women seeking abortions, but also pregnant women who under normal circumstances would move forward with their pregnancies but are now at-risk because they are facing various COVID-related hardships.
This year in general, Aid for Women has experienced an increased number of women contacting us seeking APR. We currently typically receive three to four requests per month. We haven’t had a marked increase during the past month of COVID-19, but we have definitely been informing more women of APR, which we pray will save lives in the coming weeks.
Tweet This: We have definitely been informing more women of Abortion Pill Reversal, which we pray will save lives in the coming weeks.
Do you have other recent stories from women who’ve sought APR?
Last month, a 19-year-old woman named Angelica contacted us after taking the first set of abortion pills at nine weeks of pregnancy. Angelica and her boyfriend were happy about the pregnancy, but Angelica had been taken against her will to the abortion clinic by her mother. Angelica told her mother that she took the second set of pills, but she actually flushed them down the toilet. That’s when she and her boyfriend, Alex, searched the internet for help, found the Abortion Pill Rescue Network and were connected to their local pregnancy center offering APR — Aid for Women in Downtown Chicago.
We guided Angelica through the APR regimen over the next few days. She and her boyfriend remained calm and engaged throughout the process. During the follow-up ultrasound, Angelica was able to see her viable, beautiful and active 10-week baby for the first time. Due to COVID-19 precautions, Alex was not allowed in the ultrasound exam, but Angelica showed him the ultrasound picture, and they shared in a big and tearful embrace. Angelica is currently participating in our virtual pregnancy classes. We look forward to accompanying this young couple in the coming months on their journey to parenthood.
What have you found to be the most encouraging or rewarding part of APR?
We are really encouraged by the young women, and especially the young men, who reach out for help to save their unborn babies, when they realize their mistake and are grateful for a second chance. The sound of their voices and the look in their eyes are sometimes so heartbreaking, but, at the same time, very encouraging.
While the outcome can sadly be pregnancy loss, it is rewarding to know that we have provided hope and compassion during a very difficult time and helped the mother, or couple recognize the intrinsic value and humanity of their baby. Seeing woman through a viable pregnancy after the abortion pill is the greatest blessing!
If you could say one thing to the women who call the APR helpline, what would it be?
We would say, “Something in your heart made you reach out to us for help. We know your circumstances are overwhelming right now, but let’s just think about right now. You deserve a second chance, and we will be with your every step of the day. Let us help you and your baby.”
What are some of the ways that your centers continue to advocate for women after they have started APR?
We are there to accompany women after APR. We offer our ongoing support services (pregnancy and parenting classes, support groups, housing, medical and community referrals, material items) as we accompany her throughout her pregnancy so that she can build a bright future for herself and her baby. We also provide support and healing if the outcome is pregnancy loss due to the abortion pill.
Tweet This: We are there for women after APR, offering pregnancy/parenting classes, support groups, housing, medical/community referrals, material help
What do you envision the future of APR looking like?
We are hopeful that more and more medical advances will be made with APR to increase its success rate. We envision an increased awareness of APR in our society so that young women learn the truth about the evil of abortion and know that there are life-affirming options available to them.
Editor's note: Heartbeat International manages the Abortion Pill Rescue Network and Pregnancy Help News.