While an undocumented teen seeking abortion was in custody, Trump administration officials discussed using a scientifically unproven abortion reversal method, according to a report by VICE News.
Anti-abortion crusader and refugee office head Scott Lloyd talked to his staff about the possibility of reversing one pregnant teen’s abortion with the hormone progesterone — an idea often championed by anti-choice activists that doesn’t even work.
The teen ultimately terminated her pregnancy by taking two medication abortion pills. Patients must wait between 24 to 48 hours before taking the second of two pills. While there is no evidence anyone tried to use progesterone to reverse the teen’s abortion, officials did delay the teen from taking her second abortion pill, and that’s when the subject came up.
Llyod admitted to this in a deposition he underwent as part of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). ACLU senior senior staff attorney Brigitte Amiri, asked Lloyd why the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) delayed the teen’s abortion. Here’s what he said:
“I’m not, I’m not exactly sure.”
“Did you have conversations about whether the medication abortion could be reversed?” she asked.
“I may have,” Lloyd said.
Amiri asked, “Who did you have those conversations with?”
Lloyd said, “Other transition staff, including attorneys.”
“Why would ORR seek to try to reverse the abortion of an unaccompanied minor?”
“I don’t know, I mean except to save the life of the baby,” Lloyd replied.
According to memos obtained by VICE news, the acting ORR director instructed staff by email to not let the teen terminate her pregnancy. “If steps can be taken to preserve the life of the UAC and her unborn child, those steps should be taken,” the director wrote. (UAC is an abbreviation for “Unaccompanied Alien Child.”) That same day, an ORR official asked the abortion clinic handling the teen’s abortion about medication abortion reversal.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says there is no body of scientific evidence to support or recommend using medication abortion reversal. Progesterone, which ORR inquired about, “can cause significant cardiovascular, nervous system and endocrine adverse reactions as well as other side effects,” says ACOG.
“As a physician, I find it very concerning that ORR considered using progesterone treatment to attempt to reverse the effect of mifepristone that had been taken by an undocumented teen in their custody. There is no evidence that this treatment is more effective than simply not taking misoprostol, the second drug used in medication abortion,” said Dr. Daniel Grossman, director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH). “And it is particularly concerning that this treatment might have been considered without informing the young women that it is an experimental therapy and obtaining her informed consent. This is potentially reproductive coercion.”
Four young undocumented immigrants have said the Trump administration prevented them from getting an abortion in recent months. Advocates continue to worry that other young people are at risk of the federal government infringing on their reproductive rights.
“These are just the young women we know about,” ACLU’s Jennifer Dalven previously told reporters on a call, in reference to the four teenagers. “We know there are more Jane Does out there.”