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: 500 years later, who was Luther?

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

Hero, villain, heretic, saint, reformer, corrupter, man of integrity, bombastic glutton. Which image of Luther should we believe? Because Luther primarily sought not to reform abuses in the Church but to reform the Church’s beliefs, Catholics cannot recognize him as a true reformer or a holy man. Nonetheless, it is widely agreed that Luther played a major role in shaping the modern world. With the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant movement he initiated approaching on October 31st, we have been given a number of new books to assess his legacy.

Paul Hacker, Luther’s Faith: Martin Luther and the Origin of Anthropocentric Religion, preface by Pope Benedict XVI (Emmaus, 2017).

Hacker’s book provides an in-depth, theological analysis of the issue that stands at the heart of the Reformation: Luther’s teaching on salvation by faith alone. Pope Benedict’s preface tells us that the Reformation dispute fundamentally concerned Luther’s “turning away from the center of the Gospel” (xxii). Emmaus released a new edition of Hacker’s book for the anniversary this year. It was published originally in 1970 (in English translation), the fruit of Hacker’s own intense study of Luther’s teaching on faith that led him into the Catholic Church from German Lutheranism.

Catholics agree with Protestants that salvation comes only through faith. The key issue of dispute, which Hacker reveals, is Luther’s subjective emphasis of absolute, personal certainty, which cannot be undermined even by serious sin. Hacker describes Luther’s faith as reflexive, that is turned back on oneself, by emphasizing subjective experience and personal surety more than anything else. He describes how Luther differs from the Catholic position: “Faith is the way to, or the perquisite of, salvation, but Luther makes it coincide with salvation itself. This becomes possible because he has first identified salvation with the consciousness of being saved or the certitude of salvation, and then he equates this consciousness with faith” (71). Hacker shows us how this view of faith negated the Church’s authority, the sacraments, and even the need to love God.

Brad Gregory, Rebel in the Ranks: Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the Conflicts that Continue to Shape Our World (HarperOne, 2017).

For those looking for a more general and accessible book, Brad Gregory gives us a broader narrative of how Luther’s troubled conscience exploded into the crisis that tore Christendom in two. The first section looks at Luther’s own story, tracing step by step his conflict with Church authority. The second section explains how Luther’s teaching spawned a multitude of new sects and divisions, all interpreting the Bible in their own fashion. Greggory explains: “What the early Reformation shows so clearly is that scripture and the Spirt can be interpreted and applied in radically divergent ways. Once the papacy and the Catholic Church are thrown off, there are no shared authorities to adjudicate disagreements” (137). The final section looks at how the Reformation set the tone for the development of a secular culture. Though not intending these consequences, Gregory argues that the Protestant Reformers “led indirectly to a profound diminishing of Christianity’s public influence in Western societies. The religious disagreements and conflicts that followed the Reformation set the stage for religion’s eventual separation from the rest of life” (2).

Eric Metaxas, Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World (Viking, 2017).

Metaxas, who wrote a monumental biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, provides us with a different perspective on Luther. His book seems poised to capture the largest audience for the anniversary this year. While I can’t agree with his view of Luther as a hero of faith, I can appreciate his presentation of a more sympathetic and thorough look at a man who has inspired many Protestant Christians. It is helpful to recognize why Luther is such an important figure for so many people. This book definitely provides many more details on the life of Luther (with over 450 pages). However, I would exercise caution, because it unfortunately also contains many gross misrepresentations of the state of the Church at the time of the Reformation.

For instance, even though Metaxas shows us many ways that Luther encountered the Bible in his early life, he still claims that the Bible and Church had no connection in the early 1500s and that “the study of the Bible per se was simply unheard of” (52). Luther himself was a theology professor and throughout the Middle Ages the Bible was the primary text for teaching theology. Brad Gregory makes clear in his book on Luther that there were even “twenty-two editions of the complete vernacular Bible . . . published in German . . . by 1518” (29). Metaxas presents a false picture of Catholics as ignorant, afraid to pray to Christ, and thinking they must earn their salvation through works. Good historical research could easily dispel these myths, such as the books of Eamon Duffy, but we see Protestants continue to project Luther’s own scruples (hating God and spending six hours in Confession, 47) onto the Church of his time.

Jerome K. Williams, True Reformers: Saints of the Catholic Reformation (Augustine Institute, 2017).

What could have Luther been if he had chosen faithful reform? The answer is a saint. There is no doubt that the Church was in need of serious reform in the 1500s. We have a number of great saints who show us that fidelity to God does not contradict fidelity to His Church. They stood against corruption and initiated deep and abiding reform. The Augustine Institute has release both a book and video series on true reformers, who boldly spoke out against abuses and led to a deeper realization of the truth found in the Bible, read in harmony with the Church. These figures—Teresa of Avila, Thomas More, Ignatius of Loyola, and Charles Borromeo, for instance—continue to inspire us to take up the task of genuine reform today.