Dr. George Delgado is best known for his unfounded claims that he can “reverse” abortion through an unproven and unethical experiment he has named “abortion pill reversal.” His theory has sparked a wave of legislation filed in states across the country that would force abortion providers to present his theory as if it were fact.
Delgado has for years touted a resume that has included collaboration with the medical school at the University of California, San Diego, for which he briefly worked as a voluntary clinical associate professor. According to a recent report by The Guardian, UCSD is one of several institutions that have actively worked to distance themselves from Delgado. Per the report, “[Delgado’s] position was unpaid, and may have been ‘as little as teaching a class once a year,’” a university spokesman said.
Delgado’s so called abortion pill reversal work is particularly offensive to pregnant people and abortion patients, as well as the clinicians who conduct real research to study and improve abortion care for patients. The bills and laws his theory has given rise to not only potentially put patients in harm’s way, but also explicitly stigmatize and spread the false notion that abortion is shameful and that patients will necessarily regret their decision. The reality, of course, is that 99 percent of those who have abortions don’t regret doing so, though everyone is entitled to their own feelings and experiences with having an abortion.
Delgado’s invocation of a public California university to validate his credentials while pushing an unproven theory is especially harmful and disrespectful to university students in California like me, amid our ongoing fight to bring medication abortion access to campus health centers. Abortion access is integral to college students’ ability to pursue higher education, stay in school, and lead safe, healthy, and autonomous lives. That’s why students like me have been leaders in advocating for legislation that would require campus health centers to carry abortion pills for years now.
Currently, hundreds of University of California and California State University students travel to access medication abortion at off-campus clinics each month. However, this can be geographically or financially difficult for college students who may be lower-income, and live in a state where 43 percent of counties lack abortion providers.
The fight to expand abortion access to college campuses is a personal one for me and many young women and people who experience pregnancy, and know firsthand the disadvantage and struggle that seeking abortion care can bring about in our academic careers. Students who need abortions work hard, and will likely be forced to miss classes, internships, and work shifts to travel off-campus to seek basic care. As a result, they may face setbacks, such as falling behind in class, or losing income and opportunities from missed work.
That Delgado references his time working in a minor role with a public California university like UCSD is an affront to the many students at California universities who, unlike him, are putting in the work to create real access to reproductive health care and education on our campuses. We are putting in the work to demand justice, equity, and self-determinism for ourselves, our fellow students, and all of the young people who come after us. His work on so-called abortion pill reversal and its fundamental dishonesty pose a direct threat that takes up time we could be using to increase access to healthcare.
Delgado’s theory of “abortion pill reversal” deserves none of the credence and validity he seeks by associating himself with UCSD. So-called abortion pill reversal counseling and techniques, as well as other “pro-life” misinformation, threatens the safety and decision-making abilities of all people who can become pregnant, but certainly, they threaten students and young people, some of whom may be navigating reproductive health spaces for the first time in their lives and could be more vulnerable to deceit and predation.
UCSD’s decision to distance itself from Delgado is a necessary first step. But as UCSD and all of California’s public universities prepare for the possibility of bringing medication abortion to their campus health centers amid ongoing legislative efforts, it’s critical that these universities disavow unproven and unethical experiments like abortion pill reversal and the deceit and manipulation of the pro-life movement. As a student myself, this is personal. University students deserve access to abortion care without burden and cost — and we certainly deserve access to the truth about abortion.