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Christian doctor banned from prescribing abortion reversal treatment in UK

by Chantalle Edmunds

A medical consultant, and former President of the Catholic Medical Association (UK), has been blocked from providing an abortion reversal treatment for up to 18 months, while an investigation takes place.

Dr Dermot Kearney, who is a cardiologist and emergency physician at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Tyne and Wear, has been told by a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) panel to stop offering the treatment, which is not approved by health officials. 

The decision came after a complaint was received by the General Medical Council about the treatment. 

Dr Kearney has provided the emergency abortion rescue service to a number of women who regret taking the first of two abortion pills, Mifepristone, and want to try to save their pregnancies.

He has prescribed the natural hormone progesterone which inhibits the effects of Mifepristone. The latest evidence suggests that the success rate in abortion pill reversal can be as high as 68% if treatment is started within 72 hours, according to campaign group Christian Concern. 

Rebecca Bensted from the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting Dr Kearney, told Premier he is still practicing in his NHS hospital after an interim hearing found he was fit to practice. However, he is banned from offering the abortion reversal service.

"He continues to be under investigation by the GMC, and there will be almost certainly a later final disciplinary hearing at which probably all options will be open in terms of what they might say about his continuing to practice and his future."

"Dr Dermot is in a highly skilled doctor and experienced. He's been trying for a very long time to raise this issue with the Royal Colleges and the GMC about this treatment being licensed in this country. But he's been doing it for three or four years and hasn't made any progress. When the pills by post were bought in because of COVID there was suddenly a spike in the queries. 


"The reason he wanted to offer the service was because of the demand that was there. The Catholic Medical Association were getting a lot of queries from women, asking for help. 

"When he talks to them, some of them don't go ahead with the progesterone treatments but a lot of them do.

"He and another doctor have treated 100 women in the last year and 12 babies have been born, all healthy. A number are still not yet born and some were miscarried anyway. So there's considerable demand for it," Bensted told Premier. 

The situation in the UK is very different from that in the US. When women attend an abortion clinic in several states, they are generally told that abortion reversal is possible after taking the first pill, whereas in the UK women are often told the pregnancy cannot be saved after taking this step.

One of the women who sought help from Dr Kearney who wasn't in a stable relationship and worried about finances, decided to terminate her pregnancy but remained uncertain about whether she was making the right decision.

She said she received abortion pills at home via the government's 'DIY' abortion telemedicine service, which was established as a result of the pandemic.

"As soon as I took the first pill, I instantly regretted it. I immediately broke down in tears and felt so much guilt," she told Christian Concern.

"No one had ever told me that an abortion could be reversed and the only organisation I found was in America. I made contact and within an hour, I was put in contact with Dr Dermot Kearney."

Dr Kearney put Laura in touch with her local pharmacy and within an hour she had a prescription for progesterone and "instantly felt relief."

"I was aware that it might not work, but I felt I had to do everything I could because I could not have lived with the guilt of taking the tablet and continuing the abortion."

"Dr Dermot Kearney provided me with a life-saving service for not only my baby but myself. He also provided telephone care throughout. I was able to ask many questions about the prescription and seek any advice when needed. Dr Kearney monitored my health throughout the weeks of treatment and even after. He really cared about my situation and made me feel like I had support if I needed."

Laura subsequently gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

The General Medical Council told Premier that Dr Kearney is currently subject to interim conditions on his practice, while under GMC investigation, following an Interim Orders Tribunal (IOT).

"These hearings make independent decisions about whether restrictions are necessary to protect patients or doctors while we assess the evidence and are not a finding against the doctor. The GMC can refer a doctor to the MPTS for an IOT at any point during an investigation and resulting restrictions are reviewed every six months," the GMC said. 

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