Abortion interrupted

Julie Filby

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: Helping others: the ride of your life

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Near the beginning of a 464-mile bike tour, my right knee gave out. I pulled over to a Ride the Rockies aid station in a tiny town in Colorado and lay down in the grass, in pain, my knee swollen. I felt alone and helpless. When I received help, my sense of relief and security was overwhelming. When you can’t help yourself, it’s a cold and lonely feeling. It really takes your breath away.

Now, imagine the helplessness of someone experiencing homelessness: foraging for food in trash bins, hunkered down under a bridge or not sleeping for fear of harm. It’s not something you would ever want to experience. But thousands of our brothers and sisters across the country do experience homelessness. One-fifth of them are children.

There is good news. The estimated number of homeless people has trended down in the past decade. The sad news, in Colorado, is that we’re counter to the trend. Between 2015 and 2016, when overall homelessness (including people in families) dropped 2.6 percent nationally, Colorado experienced the single-largest percentage increase of homeless individuals (12.6 percent) of any state, according to the Annual Homeless Assessment Report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The causes are many and varied. What’s important is what we do about it. At the Samaritan House homeless shelter in downtown Denver, of those individuals and families who complete the first 30 days of the Levels Program that includes life skills, more than 60 percent leave the shelter with housing in place. More than 90 percent have income in place.

This year, we will open the Samaritan House Women’s Shelter in northeast Denver to accommodate 150 women a night. We’re also moving our administrative offices to that location to be in closer community with those we serve. With your help, Catholic Charities is providing hope in the face of helplessness.

That’s also why, for the seventh consecutive year, Team Samaritan House is part of Ride the Rockies. I was on the ride in 2015 when my knee gave out. This year, I’ll be part of the support team as 40 members of Team Samaritan House pedal a 447-mile loop from Alamosa to Salida from June 10 to June 17. Why do they ride? For the love of the homeless and to raise $150,000 to support the shelters of Catholic Charities. Those riders are spending many hours in the saddle. I encourage you to support one or more of them at samhousedenver.org/rtr.

And after you do that, make plans to come down to Samaritan House and help serve dinner to the poor. You’ll be much richer for it. On a training run, one of our riders met a group of three men from Australia, riding their bikes. Just because they wanted to be a part of it, the men ended up helping Team Samaritan House serve a special pig roast dinner to residents of the shelter.

I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith,” proclaims St. Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7.

Join us. Let’s race together to serve others.

 

Larry Smith is the president and CEO of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Denver. Visit online at ccdenver.org or call 303-742-0828 to learn more, volunteer or make a donation.