Under the direction of Dr. Jeff Rohde, chemistry professor and director of the Franciscan Institute for World Health, alumna Frances Buchanan ’21 has been conducting innovative research into more effective ways of reversing chemical abortions. In her research, Buchanan has discovered that St. John’s wort, an herb known to quickly metabolize many medications and make them less effective, has the potential to help rid the body of Mifepristone (RU-486), a drug used to induce abortions in the first trimester.
Working with Rohde and Dr. Mira Kanzelberger, senior research scientist, Buchanan isolated hyperforin, the active component of St. John’s wort, and is seeking to modify its structure so it clears the abortion drug from the mother’s system more quickly.
“We hope the medication we’re working on will give women the choice to save their baby if they change their mind after they’ve started a chemical abortion,” said Rohde. “It’s not going to work in all cases… but we hope it will in some.”
In 2020, pills accounted for 54 percent of U.S. abortions, a jump of 10 percent from the previous year (Guttenmacher Institute). The life-saving potential of this research is of profound importance to Buchanan. “I don’t remember a time I was not fighting for the unborn,” she says, recounting how she, along with her 10 siblings and parents, would pray outside of abortion clinics in her native Texas, adding, “so I jumped at the chance to start this project.”
Your gift to support this research can one day help women to re-think the heartbreaking choice of abortion and save the life of a child.