Daily Beast gender reporter Emily Shugerman has published a hit piece criticizing Live Action for an ad campaign promoting abortion pill reversal. Shugerman, who is ardently pro-abortion and has been working to attack the Texas Heartbeat Act, argued that abortion pill reversal is dangerous and unproven, and cited a litany of activists from within the abortion industry to make her point. The article is based on a report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which stated that Live Action’s ads were viewed millions of times on Facebook and Google.
The abortion industry opposes abortion pill reversal, which tends to cast doubt on the idea that all women who choose abortion are certain of their decision to abort, and because between 39 and 41% of all abortions are now done using the abortion pill method — a significant source of income for the industry.
Shugerman began by casting doubt on the story of Rebekah Hagan, who began the abortion pill process, but immediately regretted it. She chose to try abortion pill reversal, and says it saved her son’s life — yet Shugerman insinuates that it’s been made up, writing, “At least, that’s what dozens of ads on Facebook would like you to think.”
On May 10, 2021, Live Action placed strategic ads on Google that informed women of the possibility of reversing the abortion pill process, which involves treatment with a safe pregnancy hormone called progesterone, which has been safely used for decades as standard treatment to prevent miscarriages. The APR treatment’s goal is to outcompete the progesterone-blocking effects of mifepristone, also known as the abortion pill. The treatment has reportedly saved the lives of over 2,500 children and has a 68% success rate.
On September 13, without warning, Google “disapproved” all of Live Action’s Abortion Pill Reversal ads. The ads had been approved by Google and running for over four months, spending over $170,000 and directing thousands to the abortion pill reversal hotline.
All of the ads were shut down per Google’s “unreliable claims” policy, effectively banning Live Action from running advertisements on the platform.
While Google shuts down all ads informing mothers of their choice to reverse the abortion pill if they regret their decision, they continue to allow pro-abortion ads for the abortion pill, which has sent 1,042 women to the hospital, required 599 women to need blood transfusions, and killed at least 24 mothers (FDA).*
Click the tweet below to read the entire thread, showing the ads that have been banned — including one regarding human development in the womb, which Google listed as containing “unreliable claims.”
.@Google has also banned the promotion of our Baby Olivia video, a medically accurate (& accredited by OBGYNs), lifelike animation of human development in the womb, citing “unreliable claims.”
This is the video banned from ads: https://t.co/CwR2L2hKug
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) September 14, 2021
As Live Action founder and president Lila Rose notes, Google continues to run advertisements for the abortion pill. She noted on Twitter, “Meanwhile, Google is permitting abortion facilities to advertise next-day abortions & abortion via mail. This is a blatant, political double standard: Google is ok with ads promoting life-ending drugs, but not life-saving treatments. Where’s the “choice?” for women, @Google?”
Dina Montemarano, the research director at NARAL Pro-Choice America, told Shugerman that pro-life groups are “willing to put money and power ahead of their users’ safety.” This is an interesting allegation, considering NARAL itself is more than willing to peddle misinformation to further an industry which is inherently unsafe for women. In fact, NARAL — and the rest of the abortion industry — frequently lobbies against regulations that would protect women and hold the abortion industry accountable.
Shugerman further interviewed an abortionist, Dr. Nisha Verma, who complained that abortion pill reversal ads contribute to the “stigma” of abortion. “It’s projecting this false narrative that people aren’t sure, that people aren’t getting counseling, that they’re getting tricked into making these decisions and then changing their minds,” she said. “And that then contributes to other attempts to restrict abortion.”
Dr. Daniel Grossman said the same in a 2018 Vice News interview, remarking, “Of course this is about the politics, and… it’s about rhetoric. You know? It’s about all of this talk about reversal makes people think that women really are very conflicted in their decision.”
The truth is that women absolutely do face pressure to get abortions. One study found that 64% of women who underwent abortions were coerced, some even by abortion industry staffers. Whistleblowers have likewise come forward to say how industry leader Planned Parenthood, for example, coerced women and teenagers to be sterilized or receive long-term birth control.
Unproven and unsafe?
The larger point of the article, however, is that abortion pill reversal is dangerous and unproven, and Shugerman cites a study by abortion industry insider Dr. Mitchell Creinin as proof. “When doctors at the University of California attempted an independent study of the method in 2019, they enrolled only 12 patients before three were rushed to the hospital with serious bleeding (Two of those women received progesterone, one received a placebo.),” she wrote. Perhaps this misinformation came directly from the Center for Countering Digital Hate. The group falsely claims on its website, “… so-called ‘abortion reversals’… [are] known to cause severe hemorrhaging.” (emphasis original, see screenshot below)
But Dr. Christina Francis, Chair of the Board at the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told Live Action News, “It actually was only one woman who received progesterone that was taken to the hospital and two who received placebo. The one who received progesterone completed her abortion and required no further treatment. The two who did NOT receive progesterone both had to have emergency surgery and one had to have a transfusion.” (emphasis added)
Shugerman further states that Dr. George Delgado’s study on abortion pill reversal was flawed, yet her concern seems one-sided; the UCSF study she uses to make her point is rife with flaws of its own.
Mitchell Creinin was the principal investigator of the study, despite a strong conflict of interest. Creinin, an abortionist, was a consultant for abortion pill manufacturer Danco Laboratories, the abortion pill manufacturer, and the study was sponsored by the University of California-Davis and the Society of Family Planning — both of which have strong ties to abortion. It was then published by the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the official publication of the pro-abortion American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
Creinin wasn’t the only study author with ties to the abortion industry. Author Laura Dalton is the Chief Medical Officer for Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s managing board, while author Laura Steward is the former chief operating officer for FPA Women’s Health, an abortion chain. Creinin and his co-authors all have a financial incentive to keep the abortion pill in-demand by the public, but Shugerman notes none of this in her hit piece.
The issue at hand in the study was of severe hemorrhaging — enough to send several women to the hospital. Shugerman doesn’t tell readers that hemorrhage is not a known side effect of progesterone (the hormone used in reversal) but is a known side effect of the abortion pill. (Since the United Kingdom began to allow at-home abortion pills during the COVID-19 pandemic, related ambulance calls jumped 100% in Wales and England ambulance services have reported three times the amount of related calls since the policy change.)
Furthermore, the Creinin study found that — despite the incredibly small sample size — the abortion pill reversal method likely isn’t dangerous, and that it does work. Twice as many patients who were given progesterone instead of a placebo saw their pregnancies continue, and twice as many patients who received the placebo were transported to the hospital via ambulance.
In a press release, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) responded to Creinin’s study:
After having three patients enrolled in the study require ambulance transfer – two of whom required emergency surgery with one also requiring a transfusion – the authors stopped the study due to “safety concerns”. However, a more thorough review of their data tells a different story.
First, what they fail to emphasize is the difference in the women who required transfer. Two out of the three patients were from the placebo group – not the group that received progesterone (the APR group). This is a 40% significant hemorrhage incidence from mifepristone ALONE.
… This study by Dr. Creinin confirms two things that we have previously known but the abortion industry refuses to acknowledge. First, mifepristone is a dangerous medication for both women and their unborn children. It is precisely for this reason that we support the FDA REMS that control the prescription and use of this medication and oppose any efforts to remove them. Second, the use of progesterone for pregnancy rescue is an effective option for women who change their minds after taking mifepristone and desire a chance to save the life of their unborn child.
Dr. Delgado likewise responded to the Creinin study with a statement (read in full here):
It should be noted that among the twelve subjects, the one who required the blood transfusion and suction aspiration (surgical abortion) was in the placebo group and did not receive proges- terone. Two other subjects were transported by ambulance to the emergency department. One, in the progesterone group, represented a failed abortion reversal. For “brisk bleeding” she called the ambulance. In the emergency department, she was noted to have completed her abortion and did not require suction aspiration. The third patient was in the placebo group, was transported by ambulance, and required suction aspiration.
Two voluntarily exited the study. One patient, in the placebo group, “had increased anxiety about bleeding . . . and requested a suction aspiration.” The other patient who voluntarily exited the study was in the progesterone group and had increased nausea and vomiting, requiring intravenous fluids as an outpatient. She also requested a suction aspiration.
Therefore, the only patients who required (not requested) suction aspiration before completing the study were in the placebo group. The progesterone patient with nausea and vomiting requested the suction aspiration and the one with the failed reversal did not have a suction aspiration.
… This study, although not reaching statistical significance, certainly supports the earlier research demonstrating the effectiveness of using progesterone in women who wish to reverse their mifepristone abortions. This study also demonstrates the hazards of having a placebo group which, from a maternal safety standpoint, fared poorly compared to the progesterone group.
The fact that Creinin’s study shows the opposite of what Shugerman claims it does is somehow missing from Shugerman’s article, despite her smearing of Live Action and the pro-life movement as spreading misinformation.
Progesterone’s long history
Many abortion advocates treat abortion pill reversal as if it is new, unproven pseudoscience using a just-discovered hormone that isn’t well-known. This is not the case.
Progesterone was the first hormone to be discovered, and its history dates back to the 1600s. Physicians have been using it to prevent miscarriages since the 1950s. Currently, studies have estimated that it can be used to prevent approximately 8,450 miscarriages a year. Essentially, the process of abortion pill reversal is essentially the same process doctors already use during a threatened miscarriage. The American Association of Pro-Life OBGYNs states in a fact sheet, “The natural hormone progesterone has been used for over 40 years in the IVF industry, to help women carry pregnancies after the embryo is transferred into her womb. There is a very long and solid history of safety of the use of natural progesterone in pregnancy.”
The kind of censorship displayed by Google along with a hit piece laden with pro-abortion talking points isn’t based on ensuring that women get the truth, or the idea that abortion pill reversal is dangerous. As Live Action president and founder Lila Rose noted, “They aren’t hiding their bias anymore: @Google’s censorship of critical pro-life information shows a blatant double standard & reckless disregard for human life & women’s health. Google must fairly apply its own policies & immediately restore pro-life ads.”
In a press release, Rose also noted, “By restricting scientific information related to abortion pill reversal and other life-saving options, while accepting paid ads promoting life-ending abortions, Google has chosen to operate by an outrageously dishonest and blatant double standard. The consequence is devastating – more women and girls will be marketed abortions through Google platforms, without also being offered life-affirming options.”
*Editor’s Note: The FDA has received reports of serious adverse events in women who took Mifeprex. As of December 31, 2018, there were reports of 24 deaths of women associated with Mifeprex since the product was approved in September 2000, including two cases of ectopic pregnancy resulting in death; and several cases of severe systemic infection (also called sepsis), including some that were fatal.
The adverse events cannot with certainty be causally attributed to mifepristone because of concurrent use of other drugs, other medical or surgical treatments, co-existing medical conditions, and information gaps about patient health status and clinical management of the patient. A summary report of adverse events that reflects data through December 31, 2018 is here.
This article has been updated since its original publication.
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