It isn’t every day that life comes full circle. It also isn’t every day that you are able to save a life.
Recently Alpha Family Center in Lowell was able to experience both when a luncheon speech they heard more than a year ago proved to be the difference between life and death for one of their clients.
Quarterly Grand Rapids Right to Life hosts their Support Services Luncheon. The many prolife pregnancy help organizations in Grand Rapids come together at the luncheon to discuss different projects they are working on. The guest speaker at one of the 2016 luncheons was Dr. Kim Barrows, who talked about a process to reverse RU-486 abortions (also known as the abortion pill or mifepristone). Abortion pill reversal was a relatively new idea and many pregnancy centers were not aware of it.
Christa Wetzel, executive director of Alpha Family Center in Lowell, said, “After hearing about this, we knew this was something that they needed to know more about. This was a really monumental moment for us that God created. I truly believe he created this reversal so that we could help these women.”
The Grand Rapids area hosts a surprising number of prolife organizations and growing resources for women and men facing crisis pregnancies. Alpha Family Center in Lowell was born out of this community, and has been a beacon of hope for women in crisis pregnancies for years.
In 2016 Alpha Family Center was able to expand their services and become a licensed medical facility after receiving an ultrasound machine as a gift. The machine was made possible by an individual making a significant donation and a handful of others who raised the needed funds in one week’s time. Christa said they’ve put a lot of effort into expanding their outreach in the community. For them the abortion pill reversal information was just one additional tool to use to expand their mission.
Following the luncheon, Christa discussed the new information with Mandy German, a physician assistant and Alpha Family Center’s medical director. Mandy was then able to receive the required training to administer the progesterone shots that can reverse the deadly effects of the RU-486 abortion pill. Because of her training, Mandy is listed on the Abortion Pill Reversal website and can provide the service independently from Alpha Family Center or other pregnancy centers.
After nearly a year, Alpha Family Center had not received a single abortion pill reversal referral. Then in mid-September, on a Friday night, they got their first referral from the abortion pill reversal hotline. The woman, “Allison,” was connected with Mandy, who walked her through the process.
Mandy said Allison had been wavering about having an abortion, but the abortion clinic staff worked to prevent Allison from being able to think through her situation.
Mandy said, “Before going through with the abortion, the client had gone up to the reception desk and asked what would happen if she were to change her mind. They let her know that she would have to still pay for her appointment that day. Then, rather uncoincidently, before she even had the chance to sit back down, she was called back.”
The abortion clinic used the appointment fee as a tool to pressure Allison, and rushed through the process in order to shut down her thought process. Prolife groups have heard many stories from women who were on the fence about their abortion being cajoled into taking the abortion pill before leaving the clinic. “Choice” is often just a political buzzword, not an operating principle of abortion clinics.
Within an hour of taking the first pill at the abortion clinic, Allison knew she had made a terrible mistake. Mandy said Allison tried to induce vomiting at home, but it was too late to stop the pill from being digested. Allison turned to the Internet to look for help, and was able to find the abortion pill reversal website.
After calling the hotline Allison was connected to Alpha Family Center in Lowell and Mandy. Mandy knew she had to act fast if she wanted to save the life of this young mother’s child.
Mandy said, “The abortion pill reversal network was extremely helpful. They had already called the local pharmacy to make sure that they had the medicine there and ready to go for us.”
The same evening Mandy got the call, she was able to administer the potentially life-saving hormone progesterone. Progesterone is the same common hormone used to help prevent miscarriages in high-risk pregnancies. The first pill of the RU-486 regimen denies needed progesterone to the unborn child.
Mandy said, “We administered the progesterone on Friday, and I was able to keep in contact with the client all weekend through texting. The client was very sick from both of the medicines, so I was able to keep in contact with her in case she had any questions.”
Abortion pill reversals are still being studied to determine the overall success rate. The website lists a current success rate of 55 percent, and in additional research the doctors studying the treatments claim to be successful in 60 to 70 percent of cases.
Mandy referred Allison back to Alpha Family Center in Lowell for an ultrasound the following Wednesday. Everyone knew heading into the ultrasound room that there was a significant chance that Allison’s baby wasn’t going to make it, despite their best efforts.
In the beginning of the ultrasound appointment, there was no movement from the baby. After several long, tense, anxious moments, some movement finally appeared on the screen. Allison’s baby decided to wave at everyone. This is a rare feat since the baby was just 10 weeks along.
Mandy said, “This was truly amazing. My heart dropped knowing we were able to help her.” Christa was thrilled the team at Alpha Family Center made the life-saving difference.
Christa said, “During the process the woman kept saying, ‘Wow this is amazing! Why don’t more people know about this?'”
Alpha Family Center is making an effort to increase awareness about this potentially life-saving treatment. They’ve been handing out abortion pill reversal literature in the care packages they give to clients. Christa said the care packages are a wonderful and needed tool.
Christa said, “There are some basic things in there like body wash and prenatal vitamins, but there is also information in there to help them in their decision making process, as we consider many of these women to be abortion vulnerable.”
Allison’s baby hasn’t been born yet, but the future is bright. This story is only possible because of the circle of prolife doctors, organizations, and volunteers that came together to make this simple, life-saving treatment available.
For more information about the abortion pill reversal process, please visit the APR website at www.abortionpillreversal.com. For pregnancy help in your local area, visit our pregnancy help listings. Right to Life of Michigan also makes informational rack cards on abortion pill reversal available to pregnancy centers and sidewalk counselors.