The warning comes after an undercover investigation conducted by Open Democracy revealed advocates of abortion pill reversal treatment claimed at least 60 women in Britain requested it in the first half of last year.
A journalist at the publication was linked up with a local doctor after ringing a 24-hour hotline overseen by a US group named Heartbeat International and promoted in Britain by the Society for Protection of Unborn Children.
The reporter was then sent a “consent form” via email explaining abortion pill reversal is an “off-label use of progesterone” and she should “seek emergency medical care immediately” if she were to feel pain.
According to the publication, the doctor appears to work at an NHS hospital and said she supports abortion pill reversal in her spare time – saying “we’ve done about 100 [treatments] now” in Britain.Read more:
So-called abortion pill reversal treatment involves consuming high doses of progesterone after taking the first of two pills prescribed for medical abortions.
Katherine O’Brien, a spokesperson for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), told The Independent: “We are deeply concerned about the process by which this medication is being prescribed, as it appears that this doctor is not providing accurate information about the potential risks of this treatment, nor are they explaining that there is no evidence it is effective.
“If women do not receive accurate, impartial advice, they cannot consent to treatment, and this would then be a matter for the General Medical Council to investigate.”
She noted this form of medication poses two key risks – saying firstly there is “absolutely no evidence” the “non-treatment” works to stop miscarriages.
Ms O’Brien added: “Secondly, there is also a very real risk of haemorrhage from using these medications. The fact that anti-abortion groups are encouraging women down this path demonstrates that they do not care about women.
“This is an attempt to prevent abortion at any cost – including a woman’s health and wellbeing. So-called abortion reversal treatment is a tactic that anti-choice groups in the UK have adopted from their counterparts in the US.”
A recent study, conducted by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and MSI Reproductive Choices, found at home early abortions pose no greater risk and allow women to have the procedure much earlier on in their pregnancy.
The findings have sparked calls from leading healthcare providers for the option, which was rolled out in the wake of lockdown measures last spring, to be made permanent.
Jonathan Lord, MSI Reproductive Choices’ UK medical director, told The Independent: “Although it is very rare for patients to change their minds over abortion, when it happens they are likely to be vulnerable and feel judged and stigmatised.
“These extremist anti-abortion sites only serve to reinforce those emotions, and fuel patients’ fears. They do not offer independent non-directive counselling that would be available through NHS abortion providers, nor do they have access to the multi-disciplinary safeguarding systems that are an essential component of care.
“Progesterone is unlicenced for this use and its safety has not been demonstrated. The only properly conducted trial had to be stopped owing to an unacceptable rate of haemorrhage, so we have no evidence that it works, and some evidence that its use could be harmful.”
Mara Clarke, founder of Abortion Support Network, said the “mere premise” of abortion reversal treatment “smacks of paternalism”.
She added: “This promotion of a possibly dangerous, unproven procedure is yet another example of how anti-abortion activists and groups peddle medical misinformation to people seeking factual information about abortion care.
“We can add this to their other tricks – making up side effects of abortion that have no basis in reality, setting up agencies claiming to help with abortion but instead delaying or obstructing access to care.”