Psychology professor studies chemical abortion reversal

By Peyton Voorheis 
Staff Writer

A professor of psychology at Franciscan University explored the possibility of utilizing an alternative drug to counteract the effects of chemically induced abortions in a recent press release.

“With this study, we know that [effects of] abortion can be reversed by the administration of progesterone, and that there are living fetuses at the end of gestation,” said Stephen Sammut, who holds a doctorate in neuroscience.

Sammut explained that the study used rats as test subjects so that social pressures and human beliefs would not influence the results.

The researcher noted that some limitations arise due to the natural differences between rats and humans. However, Sammut said that the experiment “utilized the same drug treatments that would be given to a human.”

Sammut said this meant administering mifepristone – an abortion drug – followed by progesterone. He described the next step as “confirm[ing] the presence or absence of live fetuses at the end of the pregnancy.”

All of the rats in the control group that were only given mifepristone had an abortion, whereas 81 percent of the rats given progesterone had surviving fetuses, according to Sammut.

Sammut said he has begun looking into the next steps that can be taken, given the results thus far. “We now need to investigate the behavior of the offspring and the mothers in order to confirm their long-term health,” Sammut explained.

The researcher claimed that the experiment, as well as the follow-up on the rats’ health, will allow the public to make more informed decisions regarding medical responses to pregnancy.

Sammut also said that the other researchers and himself hope that “the study instigates extensive additional research, including at the pre-clinical level, into the reversal process in order to inform and ensure the best clinical practices possible, informed by the science, and for the benefit of the patient.”

Sammut told the press that the most important thing that could be taken from this study is that “abortion-pill reversal is not a medical malpractice. It is a scientific and medical reality based on simple chemistry, and it is available for women who regret taking the abortion pill.”

Sammut also mentioned Heartbeat International’s Abortion Pill Rescue Network, which provides an option for women in such a situation.

Sammut has written and assisted with many papers in various scientific journals, presenting his research at both national and international conferences.

Sammut’s research often focuses on the effects of drug-induced abortions, including neurological, biological and behavioral effects.

According to Sammut, his studies utilize animal models to establish a pre-clinical model for early stages of research.

Also assisting with the study was Christina Camilleri, Sammut’s research and teaching assistant on campus. Camilleri is a Franciscan University alumnus with a bachelor’s of science in biology.

Graduating in 2017, Camilleri is now assisting Sammut with studies such as this one, as well as other research pertaining to abortion and ectopic pregnancy.

Sammut said his study was funded via private, restricted donations for his perinatal research.