Charlotte doctor pioneers abortion pill reversal treatment

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CHARLOTTE, NC – A Charlotte area doctor may  be on the verge of a medical breakthrough after a treatment he developed has successfully reversed the chemical abortions of more than 100 women across the country.

Dr. Matthew Harrison works at Novant Health’s Rowan County Regional Medical Center in Salisbury. He is the pioneer of the “Emergency Abortion Pill Reversal Kit”. The network’s headquarters are based in San Diego, California.

So far, across the country,  137 babies have been born without any complications, and 76 mothers are still pregnant as a result of using the kit.

It is available at over 300 providers across the country. If a woman is interested in reversing her chemical abortion, she must quickly call the hotline at, where a dispatcher will attempt to connect her with the closest doctor to her with the abortion reversal kits.

Dr. Harrison told FOX 46 the treatment is essentially a series of progesterone shots a woman must take within 72 hours of ingesting the first abortion pill, also known as RU486 or mifepristone.

“The way the abortion pill works is it essentially starves the baby by blocking the natural hormone that’s in the woman’s body, which is progesterone, thereby breaking the connection between the placenta and the uterus disrupting nutrients to the baby, causing death,” Dr. Harrison said. “This is followed 48-72 hours later with Cytotec which induces labor. What progesterone does, the treatment we give her, is it puts extra hormone into her system, the natural hormone that’s already in her system, and it floods her system with progesterone so the abortion pill doesn’t work.”

The treatment has to be taken before the woman takes Cyotec, or it will be unsuccessful.

“We’ve only had one or two women who have called and already taken the second abortion pill, and unfortunately those cases were not successful in reversing because they had already started the labor process,” Dr. Harrison said. “Before 72 hours is when we feel like we have the best chance of saving the baby.”

Dr. Harrison said there is a 5% chance of rare birth defects in the face and hands of a baby if the mother tries the treatment after she has already taken Cyotec.

FOX 46 WJZY traveled to Carthage, NC to meet with Autumn Barnes, a mother who successfully used the reversal kit and now has a healthy 5-month-old baby boy named Walker. She agreed to tell us her story.

In fall of 2014, 25-year-old Barnes felt the pressure when she had an unexpected pregnancy. She and her boyfriend already had a young daughter. They had bills to pay, and they worried about her finances.

“I never thought that I would be okay with having an abortion,” Barnes said. “I grew up with a Christian family, and that’s wrong, that’s so wrong.

But, she admits she was scared. So without telling anybody, when she was eight weeks along, she drove to Raleigh, met with a doctor, and took the first abortion pill.

“When I got into the truck it just kept running through my mind, I just killed my baby, I have a little girl at home, how is it fair that I just took an innocent child’s life?” she said.

Barnes began googling options about reversing a chemical abortion. She found a link to, which said her pregnancy could possibly be saved if she acted quickly.

“I was reading and was like this is so fake, it’s not gonna work, I don’t know what they’re talking about,” she said. “I saw the number and I thought the least I can do is call and see what it is.”

It was a phone call that would change her life, and give her unborn son a chance to have his own.

The dispatcher was able to connect her with a doctor in Fayetteville who was a provider of the abortion pill reversal kit. Barnes had not yet taken the labor inducing second abortion pill, so she gave the treatment a shot. It then became a waiting game to see if her pregnancy was saved.

She got her answer two days later when she went in for an ultrasound.

“I looked to the right and I saw the screen and the nurse said there’s your babies heartbeat,” Barnes said. “I was so happy, I think my smile was contagious. Seeing his heartbeat was like oh my goodness that’s my baby, and he’s safe, and he’s alive and hopefully he’s healthy."

Fast forward the clock many months, and at 10:28 p.m. on May 18th, 2015, Walker was born. He came a month early, but he was healthy.

“He was perfect, and he was a miracle,” Barnes said. “When they laid him on my chest and I heard him scream for the first time, that was the happiest moment, well one of the happiest moments of my life compared to the first time.”

Walker, the baby that almost never was, is now 5 months old.

“He’s healthy and he’s growing like a weed, he’s a chunk, he’s so adorable, he has the biggest blue eyes,” Barnes said.

FOX 46 showed Dr. Harrison photos of Walker during our interview with him.

“Wow, he really is a chunky monkey, isn’t he?” he said.  “I keep track with a lot of the moms on Facebook and they’re always sending me pictures and texting me all the time, it’s really exciting seeing these kids growing up.”

Though he identifies as a pro-life doctor, Harrison feels that what he’s really doing is giving women a choice.

“It’s exciting, mainly because I see it empowering these women,” he said. “I mean they were in a hopeless and dark place at one time, they thought there wasn’t any hope. This is the woman’s choice to say you know what, I’ve made a mistake and I’m not embarrassed to go and ask for some help. And that’s what we’re here for, people make mistakes all the time. We need to be ready for the women who feel they’ve made a mistake, who say what have I done, I want to help save that baby, we need to be ready within an hours notice to get them the medication they need to reverse the process.”

Barnes knows she’s lucky she was able to save her son.

“I was definitely given a second chance, and [Walker] was too, who knows what he’ll be when  he grows up,” she said. “Being able to hold him and count this toes and tickle his feet, it’s just special because of what happened and my decision I almost made. I want to try to share our story just to let people know this is available, I did almost make a mistake.”

Barnes told FOX 46 she does plan to tell Walker he was almost aborted when he is older.

“I think he should know,” she said.

The closest provider of the emergency abortion pill reversal kit to Charlotte is the Cabarrus Women’s Center in Concord.

For more information on the treatment, click here.