Dr. Dermot Kearney
When, at the end of February, the Spanish Equality Minister, Irene Montero, appeared before a parliamentary commission upon her request to explain her proposal to reform the 2010 Abortion Law, left-wing politicians fired at anything that was an obstacle to abortion access: the conscientious objection of medical personnel, the need for parental authorization in the case of minors, the three “cooling off” days given to pregnant women seeking an abortion to fully consider their decision…
“We force all women by law to reflect for three days, as if their decisions weren’t legitimate,” lamented Montero. But Spain isn’t an oddball regarding this practice. Of the 27 EU countries, 14 have this “grace period”– some are like Spain with it being three days, others are up to seven. Are these periods for reflection of any use? Or does every woman who goes to an abortion clinic have everything so categorically clear that there’s no need to leave margin for consideration?
What cardiologist Dermot Kearney, former president of the Catholic Medical Association (UK), has found is that things aren’t always crystal clear when someone decides to have an abortion. In fact, he’s treated dozens of women who, after taking one of the drugs necessary to induce an abortion at home, have regretted their decision and have come to him to stop the process. And in many cases, it’s worked.
His and his colleague’s, obstetrician Eileen Reilly, success in reversing abortions has sparked complaint by the abortion lobby to the General Medical Council (GMC), the public body that regulates the practice of medicine in the country, for using an “unlicensed” drug for that specific use. But the arguments of the complainants have ended up going down a rabbit hole of inconsistencies, and he continues to save lives.
How many to date? Let’s hear from him directly.
The first 72 hours are key
— What are the effects of the treatment? How does it work?
— The treatment we provided was Progesterone, the natural hormone required to maintain pregnancy. Pharmacological abortions are carried out by taking two drugs in a two-stage process. The first drug is Mifepristone or RU486. This is a Progesterone receptor antagonist, blocking the effects of the natural hormone Progesterone. This results in separation of the placenta or developing placenta from the inner lining of the uterus, thus starving the embryo or foetus of essential nutrients and usually causing death. It specifically results in a process known as “decidual necrosis” and placental separation.
The second drug, Misoprostol, is taken 24-48 hours later to complete the abortion. This is a prostaglandin analogue that works primarily by causing contraction of the uterus, resulting in expulsion of the developing baby and other products of conception from the womb.
In the USA, more than 3,000 babies have been born as a result of this rescue treatment between 2012 and January 2022, without any increased risk of congenital abnormalities
If both drugs are taken as directed by the abortionists, there is a 98-99% chance that the developing baby will die (1-2% chance of the baby surviving). If Mifepristone alone is taken without the follow-up Misoprostol but without Progesterone rescue treatment, there is a 75-80% chance that the baby will die (20-25% chance of survival). If Mifepristone is taken but followed by rescue treatment with Progesterone, within 72 hours of taking the first abortion pill, there is a 30-50% chance that the baby will still die (50-70% chance of survival).
— How many babies have been saved and born alive and healthy?
— In the UK, 32 babies have been born to mothers who received Progesterone rescue treatment in the twelve month period from late April 2020 to late April 2021. All of these babies are healthy. This represents a success rate in the UK of 50-55% where mothers had taken Mifepristone, changed their minds and subsequently received Progesterone rescue treatment and continued to take the rescue treatment as directed by us.
In the USA, more than 3,000 babies have been born as a result of this rescue treatment between 2012 and January 2022, without any increased risk of congenital abnormalities. The overall success rate of rescue treatment in the USA is 50-70%. There is a much greater awareness of this abortion rescue treatment in the USA and in some states it is even mandatory for women to be informed of this possibility if they are offered abortion by pharmacological means with Mifepristone and Misoprostol. Although the rescue treatment using Progesterone can be effective if commenced within 72 hours of Mifepristone, the sooner the rescue treatment is commenced the greater is the chance of success. In the USA, the average delay in commencing treatment with Progesterone after Mifepristone is less than 6 hours. In the UK it is 24-25 hours.
In the UK, mothers usually regret that they have taken Mifepristone and want to save their baby very soon after they have taken the first abortion drug, But they don’t know what to do. They are not given any information about the possibility of reversing the effect of Mifepristone. They usually return to the abortion provider and say that they regret what they have done but they are always told that there is nothing that can be done. They are given the option of simply not taking the second abortion drug, Misoprostol, and advised to wait and see what might happen. Sometimes they are told that they must take the second drug, against their will. They often subsequently contact their family doctor or local NHS emergency services, but, once again, are told that nothing can be done to help them. In desperation, some manage to start an internet search and may find the abortion pill reversal helpline run by Heartbeat International, based in Ohio, USA. They are able to subsequently connect the mother to a local doctor in the UK or elsewhere who might be willing and able to arrange emergency rescue treatment with Progesterone. This, of course, takes some time and time is crucial to the survival of the baby and also the preservation of the mother’s mental health in many cases.
The current evidence suggests that it may be worthwhile commencing the rescue treatment with Progesterone even up to 72 hours after Mifepristone has been taken, as long as the mother has not yet experienced very heavy bleeding and severe abdominal pains after the Mifepristone. That is also our experience in the UK.
Pressured into abortion
— Is there any “cooling off period” for women who want to have an abortion in the UK?
— No. In the UK, there is no “cooling-off” period. Pregnant women who contact any of the abortion agencies are presumed to have decided that they definitely want to proceed with abortion. No counselling is offered apart from a simple questionnaire to confirm that they want to have an abortion. No alternative courses of action or alternative suggestions of support are offered. Since March 2020, most abortion pills are obtained by simple telephone conversations, without any safety checks, and without any in-person consultations or ultrasound scans to confirm location of the embryo or foetus or the actual stage of gestation. The abortion provider cannot even be certain that they are posting the abortion pills to an actual pregnant woman. As one of our patients informed us “it was easier than ordering a pizza” when she contacted the abortion provider by telephone.
— How many women have asked you and Dr. Reilly for help?
— Between us, we received 144 requests for help over the 11-month period. We know that a small number of these, perhaps 3-5, were hoax calls from “journalists” or spies trying to find out what we were offering and attempting to find some incriminating evidence against us. Most calls, however, were genuine.
Not all of these mothers commenced Progesterone rescue treatment. Many of them wanted to do so but were under pressure from partners or others to proceed with abortion. They wanted, however, to consider the option of abortion reversal treatment. In some cases, the phone-calls came too late and the abortion process was already well underway with heavy bleeding and severe abdominal pain, even before the second abortion pill, Misoprostol, had been taken. In a small number of cases, mothers contacted us even after they had taken the Misoprostol and there was nothing we could offer in those cases.
Some women commenced the Progesterone treatment but then stopped it within a few days for a variety of reasons. In some cases, they were told to stop the treatment by the abortion providers or sometimes by their own family doctors, but more often by partners or family members with the application of emotional blackmail. One woman sadly informed me that her boyfriend said he would “kill himself” if she did not continue with the abortion. Others were threatened with abandonment. Some women who started treatment were subsequently lost to follow-up.
Of those who commenced and continued the rescue treatment as directed, the success rate was 48-58%. We provide this range because, in a small number of cases, there was an initial success with healthy continuing pregnancies for more than 4-5 weeks after the initial Mifepristone but tragically later miscarriages. In some cases, it was not possible to ascertain if the later miscarriages were due to the previous Mifepristone and subsequent failure of Progesterone rescue treatment or if these were natural miscarriages that would have happened anyway, even if the abortion drugs had not been administered. It is well established that 10-15% of all early pregnancies will result in spontaneous miscarriage. Some of our apparent “failed” attempts to provide rescue treatment may have actually failed because of spontaneous miscarriage for other unknown reasons, such as naturally-occurring chromosomal abnormalities.
— The GMC has allowed you and Dr. Reilly to offer an “abortion pill reversal”. Please tell us how it all happened.
— First of all, at the moment, the restrictions still apply to Dr Reilly as the GMC has not yet fully reviewed her case. Her case remains under review. The restrictions (or “conditions”) were revoked in my case on February 18th 2022, on completion of the investigation relating to me.
There had been no complaints from any of the women we had served or from their families. Some abortion providers (Marie Stopes International and Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists [RCOG]) and an abortion advocacy group (Open Democracy) complained to the GMC with a number of allegations that our actions represented “professional misconduct” and we were ordered to discontinue our rescue activity on 12th May 2021, following the initial IOT, for a period of 18 months, allegedly to allow an investigation to take place. It is important to realise that no evidence was produced by any of these complainants to support any of the allegations made against us.
From the start, I was represented by the Christian Legal Centre who set about obtaining supportive evidence in my defence. We immediately obtained an independent expert witness report and subsequent witness statements from ten of the mothers that I had helped. We later obtained other supportive evidence relating to the safety and efficacy of abortion pill reversal treatment from reputable sources in the USA (American Association of Prolife Obstetricians & Gynecologists [AAPLOG] and Charlotte Lozier Institute).
We need more doctors providing this service 24 hours each day, because you never know when a call for emergency help might come
The GMC “investigation” initially moved very slowly with no evidence emerging to support any of the allegations that had been made. My legal team decided that we should take legal proceedings against the actions of the GMC because they acted unjustly in endorsing the allegations and in the imposition of the restrictions that were unnecessary and disproportionate. We make an application to the High Court in September 2021 and a Court hearing was scheduled to take place on February 24th 2022. Suddenly the GMC started to act, but only on my case.
An independent expert report was eventually obtained by the GMC in late January 2022. This report was largely supportive of abortion reversal treatment. This evidence was then passed to the GMC investigating officers, who concluded that there was “no prospect” of upholding any of the ten allegations that had been made against me. The case against me was therefore dismissed without any further actions to be taken.
Yes, “off-licence use”… Like so many others
— The pro-abortion lobby has gone against you. They argued that the treatment is not licensed to be applied. What can be answered in this regard?
— Progesterone is a licensed medical product although it is not currently licensed for use in abortion reversal or rescue treatment. No medication is licensed for that purpose. It is, however, widely used in obstetrics and is recommended for prevention of recurrent miscarriage and is widely used to support early pregnancy in IVF. Its use in abortion reversal treatment is therefore described as an “off-licence” use.
It is very important to note that many medications are used in this “off-licence” manner in all areas of medicine, as long as there is evidence for efficacy and safety and the medical practitioner using the product is able to demonstrate a good understanding of the product and its effects.
It is also very important to appreciate that Misoprostol, the second abortion drug, is not licensed for use in inducing miscarriage or abortion. It is licensed for use in the management of peptic ulcer disease. Its use in abortion is therefore also “off-licence”. Similarly, the RCOG strongly recommend Methotrexate for the medical management of ectopic pregnancy although it is not licensed for this use. It is licensed for use in the management of some chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Its use in medical management of ectopic pregnancy is also “off-licence” usage.
To accuse us therefore of using a medication outside of its normal licensed use is quite inconsistent or even hypocritical.
— What could be the echoes of the GMC verdict for the practice of doctors in the UK?
— I hope that many more doctors will be encouraged by this outcome and will be prepared to support and participate in providing abortion reversal treatment to women who are desperately seeking this help. It would not be possible for an effective abortion reversal service to continue indefinitely with only two doctors in the entire country providing it. It would not be sustainable in the long term.
In the USA, there are more than 800 doctors providing this service across all 50 states. While the UK is a much smaller country, it has a population of 67 million. We need more than two doctors providing this service 24 hours each day, 7 days per week. We have been effectively on continuous call because you never know when a call for emergency help might come.
— Do you expect an increase in calls from pregnant women who are hesitant about their first abortion step?
— Yes. It is ironic that, as a result of the complaints made against us and the attempts of the abortion industry to stop us providing an abortion rescue service, there is now a much greater awareness of abortion reversal treatment in the UK. There has also been a considerable degree of debate in the UK generated by the controversial “pills by post” abortion provision scheme, introduced due to lockdown restrictions during the Covid pandemic. The British public are more aware of the dangers associated with abortion drugs. Unfortunately, the number of abortions performed is increasing year by year and more and more are being carried out with the use of these dangerous drugs. On the other hand, the pro-life movement is growing stronger and we are slowly managing to inform the general public that options other than abortion are available to all mothers in crisis pregnancies and in difficult situations.