A UK-based doctor is under investigation for offering to prescribe abortion “reversal” medication, an “unproven and experimental” treatment promoted by US-based anti-abortion activists.

The Guardian reported that Dr Eileen Reilly allegedly offered to prescribe pessaries to an undercover investigator with the advocacy group openDemocracy. The undercover investigator was connected to the doctor after calling a US-based Christian hotline run by Heartbeat International, a large anti-abortion group.

Dr Reilly is now being investigated by the General Medical Council.  A public listing of regulatory actions shows Reilly is now subject to supervisory conditions while the GMC considers her case.

According to the Guardian, “abortion reversal” is an “unproven and unethical” treatment promoted to women who opt for medication abortions to terminate a pregnancy. Medication abortions are available to people who wish to terminate a pregnancy that is less than 10 weeks along. Crucially, the medication can be taken at home, which has caused its popularity to increase amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, since 2014, a California-based doctor has promoted a “treatment” to “reverse” a medication abortion through large doses of progesterone, though US-based doctors associations and OB-GYNs have repeatedly said there is no evidence to show it is safe or effective.

An editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine called the treatment “unproven and experimental”, and said it should only be offered, “in the context of clinical research supervised by an institutional review board (IRB)”.

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