Last week news emerged, via a Trump official’s deposition and the disclosure of a series of emails, that the Department of Health and Human Services subjected an unaccompanied minor to at least one unnecessary medical test and came perilously close to subjecting her to medical experimentation.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement has blocked four unaccompanied minor immigrants from obtaining abortions, capitulating only after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) secured a court order to ensure access. During a deposition in this ongoing case, director of refugee resettlement E. Scott Lloyd admitted to something potentially even more troubling than denying care: He and his staff explored the possibility of “reversing” or “aborting a chemical abortion process.”
Medical abortion occurs in two stages: First, the patient takes mifepristone under a doctor’s supervision; they then take a second medication, misoprostol, at home—or in detention, in the “Jane Doe” cases at hand. Proponents of “reversing abortion” encourage women who have already taken the first medication to take progesterone instead of the second pill. There’s no proven way to “reverse” an abortion, and the safest means of lowering the odds that the medical abortion will be successful is skipping the second medication.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists doesn’t recommend trying to “reverse” a medication abortion in progress, and says progesterone is “generally well tolerated” by pregnant women but can cause side effects. Instead of administering progesterone and embarking on an experimental medical procedure, women who are rethinking their medication abortions should likely just skip taking the second pill, doctors told VICE News.
Few patients are known to have successfully undergone abortion reversals. The group Abortion Pill Reversal, which promotes the controversial method, bases its claims on a study of seven patients who received the progesterone protocol between 2006 and 2011. More than 120,000 medication abortions were performed in the United States in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
This foray into the feasibility of experimentation is just the latest sign of the administration’s work to license discrimination.
The administration had already proposed a rule extending sweeping religious and moral objections to cover the entirety of HHS and its programs, affecting not just the agency itself but the organizations that it funds.
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