When Dr. Allan Sawyer stood before an Arizona legislative committee on March 11, 2015, he didn’t care that he was the only medical professional testifying in favor of Senate Bill 1318. He did care, however, about Tara*, the pregnant woman who had come to him just one month earlier, frantic to reverse her RU-486 abortion.
A past president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, with more than 10,000 deliveries on three continents to his name, Sawyer had cared for more than 16,000 Arizona women in the 26 years of his practice.
But the 54-year-old recently had to draw on his training with Delgado’s APR team. Sawyer, an adoptive father of four, had personally spoken with hundreds of patients about their intense post-abortion remorse; he wanted to help this particular woman avoid that pain.
“The common thread between these women is the regret that they harbor in having chosen abortion,” he told the committee.
Tara, a first-time mother, was 10 weeks along, distraught over her father’s recent death and felt the timing to bring a new life into the world was all wrong. But within hours of swallowing the mifepristone at a Planned Parenthood facility in Glendale, Ariz., she felt remorse.
“She was told by the Planned Parenthood staff that she had to complete the abortion, and that if she didn't go through with it, that she would get an infection or hemorrhage, but it was extremely important that she complete the process,” Sawyer tells Citizen.
Thankfully, through the internet, Tara found Sawyer and arrived at his office within an hour. An ultrasound showed the fetus was alive and active. The mother wanted life for her child, but couldn’t pay for the APR because she had already spent her money on the abortion.
So Sawyer bought the progesterone himself (Wow, I may have just saved a baby's life for only $60! he thought) and began the standardized protocol. Tara is due to deliver her child on September 15.
“It's a priceless moment of happiness: the blessing inside of me, that I can continue to be a mom and to continue what has been started,” she tells Citizen. “I am very grateful for a doctor who took the time to show they care and give this mother a second chance.”
Inspired partly by Sawyer’s success, Arizona state Sen. Nancy Barto (R - Phoenix) co-sponsored SB 1318, which, among other restrictions, requires abortionists to inform their patients that chemical abortions might be reversible.
Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, a public-policy group associated with Focus on the Family, says SB 1318 was hotly contested.
“It was very challenging; there was a lot of debate on the House floor,” she tells Citizen. “Dr. Sawyer’s testimony was critical to (the bill’s) passage.”
Gov. Doug Ducey signed SB 1318 into law on March 30. Calling it “not based in science,” Planned Parenthood Arizona announced on June 4 that it is suing the state, keeping the law from taking effect.
A hearing to debate the legislation’s merits will be held in October.
“If the proponents of pro-choice really believe in choice,” says Sawyer, “then don't deprive a woman of changing her mind after she has taken RU-486 and tell her that she must complete her abortion.”
A similar bill took effect in Arkansas in July, after passing the General Assembly on a 75-1 vote and the state Senate 26-4 in late March.
*Name has been changed for privacy.