Abortion interrupted

Julie Filby
editorial pic for top story WEB

A primary source for this story chose to remain anonymous to maintain her privacy. The Denver Catholic Register changed her name to “Kim” to accommodate her request.

Kim, 32, was frantic when she left the Planned Parenthood clinic in Fort Collins Saturday afternoon. As soon as she took the first dose of the abortion pill, she knew she’d made a mistake. She pulled over in a nearby church parking lot.

“I started trying to throw up right away,” she said, struggling to speak as she recalled the traumatic day last September when she was grappling with how to proceed with her pregnancy. “I just kept forcing myself to throw up until I couldn’t taste the pill anymore.”

At the same time, she searched the Internet for “abortion reversal” on her smartphone. That search landed her at www.abortionpillreversal.com and their 24-7 hotline. Her call ultimately connected her with Dr. Edwin Anselmi, a physician with Our Lady of Hope Medical Clinic in Centennial.

Anselmi advised her to come directly to the clinic. About two hours had elapsed from the time she took the pill when she arrived at his office. There he examined her, did an ultrasound—including listening to the baby’s heartbeat—and immediately began a protocol to reverse the effects of the drug.

Dr. Edwin Anselmi at his Centennial clinic, Our Lady of Hope.

Dr. Edwin Anselmi at his Centennial clinic, Our Lady of Hope.

How it works
Kim had taken mifepristone, also known as the abortion pill. It has been available in the United States as an oral tablet since 2000 and is also referred to as RU-486 and the brand name Mifiprex. According to the Food and Drug Administration, it can be used to terminate a pregnancy up to 49 days after the first day of the last menstrual period.

Kim was about nine weeks along when she took it. The drug is administered under supervision in a medical facility, in her case at Planned Parenthood; and it induces abortion by counteracting the hormone progesterone needed to maintain a pregnancy. Without progesterone, placenta—a structure that develops in the uterus during pregnancy—fails, cutting off oxygen and nutrition to an embryo.

“When I went in they were still giving me the option of the pill or the machine,” she said. “They were really pushing the machine saying ‘We all agree we’d do the machine, it’s less emotional.’”

“The machine” is a suction device that empties the uterus, commonly called aspiration or vacuum aspiration. Planned Parenthood personnel recommended it as a way to “get it over-with,” “get it done fast,” she said.

However Kim chose the pill, rationalizing that it wasn’t really an abortion.

“It will just look like a miscarriage,” she told herself. “I knew in my heart it was wrong. … I was praying the whole time.”

Just in time
God answered her prayers by connecting her with Anselmi before she continued to the next step of the abortion pill process. Following mifepristone, a second drug, misoprostol, is taken 36 to 72 hours later. Misoprostol causes contractions to expel the fetus, a process that can range from a few hours to a few days.

To block the effects of mifepristone, Anselmi launched a protocol developed by Doctors George Delgado and Mary Davenport described in their case study “Progesterone Use to Reverse the Effects of Mifepristone” published in “The Annals of Pharmacotherapy” December 2012. It involves progesterone injections for three consecutive days, followed by an injection every other day for two weeks, then continued progesterone twice a week until the end of the first trimester.

“He was amazing,” Kim said of Anselmi. “He was so kind and loving and gentle. He’s really an exceptional person.”

Anslemi, a parishioner of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Latin Rite Church in Littleton, has been practicing pro-life family medicine for 20 years since graduating from Columbia University in New York in 1994. He is currently the only doctor in the Denver-metro area providing the progesterone protocol to reverse the abortion pill, though he would like to see more join the network started by Delgado that currently stands at 140 doctors across the country.

“If you’re pro-life,” he said. “Here’s something you can do directly. I don’t know what the outcome would’ve been (with Kim) if we didn’t give her progesterone.”

What the future holds
Kim, now 32 weeks pregnant, is excited to welcome her son in early May, along with his father. The couple plans to marry next summer. When facing the reality of an unexpected pregnancy last August, she was between jobs, had no health insurance, and was considering moving from Denver. Today she is employed full-time, secure in her relationship and “at peace.”

“I’ve had a lot of anxiety,” she said. “But at the same time I know God is the one with the ultimate say here. So far, he’s done nothing but carry me and carry the baby. … It took me a while to get here, but now I’m really excited, I’m really happy.”

Anselmi has been contacted by two other women: in one case he successfully reversed the abortion pill two days after the patient ingested mifepristone; and the other woman called with questions but in the end, did not receive treatment.

Since the website was established in January 2013, 330 women have called the hotline seeking abortion reversal counseling, 100 of them received the progesterone protocol, and 60 of those pregnancies continued.

“We have 18 living babies and 42 pregnant moms right now,” according to Debbie Bradel, coordinator of the program.

“If there’s any way to help a woman that wants to keep her pregnancy, I want to do it,” said Anselmi, who provides the progesterone at no charge. “Babies are so precious.”

For more information, visit www.abortionpillreversal.com or call 877-558-0333.

COMING UP: St. Bernadette’s Parish provides ministries with big reach

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St. Bernadette’s Parish provides ministries with big reach

Lakewood church is home to deaf, Native American, homeless ministries

Roxanne King
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St. Bernadette Parish, the pioneer Catholic church of Lakewood, outgrew its first worship space just 18 years after being founded in 1947. Today, the half-century-old church remains large enough but needs updated to better serve its exceptionally diverse congregation.

In addition to ministering to the faithful of central Lakewood, the parish heads Colorado Catholic Deaf Ministry, is home to St. Kateri Native American Community, runs a school and soon will be host to Marisol Home, which will provide transitional housing to homeless women with children.

“One holy, Catholic and apostolic church is a pretty good description for our parish,” said the pastor, Father Tom Coyte.

“Catholic means universal,” added pastoral associate Julie Plouffe, “and there is so much diversity represented in this one worship space: the deaf, Native Americans, service to the poor and the homeless, and to our school.”

Deaf ministry

When Father Coyte was named pastor of St. Bernadette’s two and a half years ago, he quickly realized his handsome church was in need of repairs and renovations—from the essentials of updating the heating, cooling and electricity, to improving the sanctuary for comfort and hospitality.

He wants all of his parishioners, including the deaf, to be able to enjoy full, active participation in the church liturgies. When Father Coyte arrived to St. Bernadette’s, the deaf community, which he’s led for 45 years, came with him.

“We became aware of how difficult it is to participate visually in our liturgies here,” Father Coyte said.

Because it’s essential for the deaf to see what’s being signed, the parish plans, among other improvements, to elevate the altar platform to increase visibility for the congregation. (The change will also aid seeing the schoolchildren when they take part in liturgies.)

Deaf ministry enables the hard of hearing to serve as lectors, ushers and extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist. It offers interpretive services for weddings, funerals and religious education classes, and organizes retreats.

“Deaf ministry is an archdiocesan outreach to all deaf persons and their families to be fully involved in parish and Church life,” Father Coyte said.

Services include religious education and interpretive outreach, and signed weekly Masses at two other parishes—one in the Colorado Springs Diocese.

“We also go to Pueblo and have been to other states,” Father Coyte said.

St. Kateri Community

The St. Kateri ministry, in which some 60 people from across the archdiocese representing about 10 Native American tribes celebrate a weekly Mass incorporating Indian traditions, has been at St. Bernadette’s since 1985.

“They’ve been embraced by the St. Bernadette community,” Father Coyte said. “They have a beautiful spirituality.”

Kateri ministry exists to evangelize and serve the archdiocese’s Native American community and provides religious education and community building.

Aid to the poor, homeless

Last fall, the Kateri community, which had turned the parish’s old convent into a chapel, moved their weekly Mass into the church proper. Catholic Charities is leasing and transforming Kateri’s former home for worship into a home for single-parent mothers with children. Marisol Home, set to open this year, will be able to shelter up to 18 families at once.

“St. Bernadette’s will be providing a lot of meal support and volunteer hours,” Plouffe said of the Marisol ministry.

Ministry to the poor and homeless has long been a cherished activity of the parish, which helps a near daily stream of indigent from Lakewood’s Colfax corridor with food, rent assistance and resource referrals.

“We reach out to many needy families in our school as well,” Father Coyte said.

Vast outreach

This spring the parish is launching a three-year, $1.5 million capital campaign to fund necessary improvements to make St. Bernadette’s more beautiful, functional and welcoming for its diverse congregation.

Just as the church’s unique ministries stretch beyond its parish boundaries, Father Coyte said so, too, does its need for donations.

“Our outreach is much larger than St. Bernadette Parish,” he said. “We’re a relatively small parish of 700 to 800 families, yet our ministries are quite ambitious.”

To Donate

Call St. Bernadette Parish, 303-233-1523