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“First doctor banned from saving lives” shares account of providing APR in the UK

by | Jun 19, 2024

By Karen Ingle

Heartbeat President Jor-El Godsey, Kearney, and Heartbeat Senior Director of Medical Impact Christa Brown
Photo credit: Lisa Bourne

A physician who faced the specter of losing his license over his helping women try to save their unborn children exhorted pregnancy help professionals at the 2024 Heartbeat International Annual Conference to stay the course in doing the right thing when it comes to standing for life.

“Never, ever get tired of doing what is right,” Dr. Dermot Kearney said. “It can be discouraging. There will be opposition. Sometimes you’ll fall and fail, but just get back up and never, ever get tired of doing what is right.”

Kearney, a cardiologist practicing in northeast England and president emeritus of the Catholic Medical Association (UK), addressed the Heartbeat Conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah, April 24-26.

Kearney was blocked by the UK medical authorities from providing Abortion Pill Reversal (APR) treatment and faced false charges of misconduct. Kearney withstood the suppression and eventually prevailed, as there was no evidence for the claims against him. Following this, another colleague in the UK who’d faced similar repression was also allowed to resume offering APR.

Heartbeat is the largest network of pregnancy help in the U.S. and globally and manages the Abortion Pill Rescue® Network (APRN). Kearney was administering APR through the APRN.

Despite facing tremendous opposition of his own, Kearney said he and other UK providers have saved at least 61 babies so far—with more on the way—since 2020, when he began administering abortion pill reversal, the proven progesterone treatment to counteract mifepristone, the first abortion pill.

“I’ve been practicing medicine since 1989 and in those 35 years I’ve done various things in cardiology and general medicine and emergency medicine,” he said as photos of him with babies he’s saved covered the big screens beside him. “But this far and away is the most rewarding aspect of medical practice that I can obviously say that I’ve enjoyed.”

Kearney reported at least a 50% success rate (i.e., continued pregnancy and live birth) for his own patients who receive progesterone after taking only mifepristone. He compared this to a 1-2% survival rate when women take both mifepristone and misoprostol (the second pill in the abortion regimen), and a below-20% survival rate if women take only mifepristone but do not receive progesterone.

“On the basis of the data that we have managed to collect, if they go ahead with the abortion rescue treatment, we can more than double the rate of survival of the babies,” Kearney said. “I have found that if we can get to 15 weeks there’s a very good chance that their baby will be okay.”

(In the U.S., success rates tend to be closer to 64-68%, he noted, due in part to easier ultrasound access.)

On the occasions when he was unable to restore a pregnancy, he drew encouragement from his colleague Dr. Eileen Reilly, the first UK doctor to attempt abortion pill reversal, who reminded him, “Even if you save one life, it’s all worthwhile.”

Opposition to saving lives

Kearney’s success in saving lives, however, drew fire from the UK medical establishment.

Before implementing the protocol himself in 2020, Kearney had approached the National Health Service, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and the Royal College of General Practitioners, hoping they would get behind this life-saving treatment, given the accumulating evidence of its effectiveness. They did not.

Instead, unbeknownst to him, an investigation by the General Medical Council, UK’s medical licensing authority, began in January 2021 after the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, along with the pro-abortion organization Marie Stopes International, accused him of professional misconduct. In all, 10 allegations and charges were brought against him.

On May 12, 2021, Dr. Kearney was taken before the medical tribunal and there prohibited from prescribing, administering, or recommending progesterone for Abortion Pill Reversal treatments—a step back from the General Medical Council’s call to completely suspend his license.

“The result is that I’m the first doctor in history, I think, to be banned from saving lives,” he said.

Ironically, on May 11, just one day before this decision, another baby he had saved with progesterone was born.

A legal team from Christian Concern’s Christian Legal Center took Kearney’s case out of the hands of the medical tribunal—where only the charges were being evaluated, not the evidence—and carried it to the High Court in London. Kearney was scheduled to appear on February 24, 2022. A mere six days beforehand, he learned that all charges were dropped.

“The words they used were, ‘there was no prospect of obtaining any evidence to support the allegations of professional misconduct,’” Kearney said.

Coercion, misinformation, and pressure to abort continue for UK women

Peppering his Conference presentation with a mix of statistics from his practice and stories of his patients’ desperate search for a way to save their pregnancies, Kearney pointed out that women in the UK are often pressured to pursue abortion.

One woman with the pseudonym “Victoria,” depressed by her boyfriend’s abandonment, was told by her family doctor that she wasn’t ready to parent and should abort her baby. Following that advice, she took the first abortion pill and immediately regretted her choice. She contacted Kearney, who successfully sustained her pregnancy with progesterone.

Later in that preserved pregnancy, her psychiatrist again recommended abortion. Instead, she went on to deliver a healthy baby boy several months later. However, social services took her newborn away from her, apparently because she had refused to follow her psychiatrist’s advice. Only after a legal battle was she able to regain custody of her son.

“Sarah,” already raising a daughter, considered abortion out of fear of financial difficulties. Though she cried hysterically in her doctor’s office, the doctor handed her mifepristone and a glass of water and said, “Well, are you going to take it or not?” Sarah swallowed the pill, convinced she had no other option.

As she left the office with misoprostol in hand for later use, “Sarah” wished she could vomit up the pill she had taken. She rushed home and searched online for help, found the Abortion Pill Rescue Network, and a nurse connected her with Kearney. After treatment with progesterone, she went on to deliver a baby boy.

In December 2023, Kearney received a call from another woman who had heard of his success with “Sarah” and needed the same help. Her rescued baby is due within a few months of this writing.

“Sometimes we get these new cases that come to us when there’s no other way, because the women now go to abortion providers to be actively told, ‘If you change your mind—you shouldn’t—but if you do, do not seek abortion reversal,’” Kearney said.

“There was a time in 2020, early 2021, I was getting six calls a week, three some days, weekends especially,” he said. “But now it’s down to two or three a month. With the other providers, it is more or less the same. So, the numbers have dried up largely because of the opposition.”

Hope through a window of opportunity

Kearney estimated that in 2023 there were about 250,000 abortions among a population of 60 million people in the UK, “and close to 90% are carried out by drug-induced means.”

“That gives a window of opportunity,” he said.

“When surgical abortion takes place, once that instrument is introduced there’s no going back,” said Kearney. “But there is a slight window of opportunity, at least in some cases, if the mother changes her mind after she’s taken that first abortion pill. That’s where the Abortion Pill Rescue Network comes into play.”

As part of the Network, Christa Brown, Heartbeat International’s Director of Medical Impact, spoke of Kearney’s remarkable determination to help women save their babies.

She said, “There are very few who would tell a team of hotline nurses, ‘Call me anytime day or night because women deserve the right to abortion pill reversal.’”

There are very few who would ask a patient, ‘Do you have a way to get to the pharmacy?’ and if not, send a taxi on their own dime,” Brown said. “There are very few who would ask the woman, ‘Do you have funds to pay for this prescription?’ and if not, send their dear wife Mary with a credit card to pay for that life-giving progesterone.”

“There are very few who,” continued Brown, “when their very livelihood and medical licensing and professional reputation are threatened and they’re under investigation and faced with restrictions for months on end, when colleagues turn their backs and all they’ve worked so hard for is at risk, will stand strong and say, ‘I work for the Lord, not man.’

“Today there’s a call to courage for all of us, just as in the days of the Underground Railroad and the times of the midwives who were ordered by law to end the lives of the baby boys,” Brown said. “This is not a time for retreat. This is a time for courage.”

Heartbeat International presented Kearney with its Servant Leader Award following his address, Kearney unaware he would be receiving the honor. The Servant Leader Award honors those who, in the example of Christ, lead and serve concurrently.

Editor’s note: Heartbeat International manages the Abortion Pill Rescue® Network (APRN) and Pregnancy Help News where this first appeared. Reposted with permission.