NY AG sues crisis pregnancy centers over 'abortion pill reversal' claims

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New York Attorney General Letitia James on Monday sued Heartbeat International and 11 pregnancy centers, including sites in the Rochester area and Hudson Valley, for allegedly making fraudulent claims about abortion pill reversal treatments, court records show.

In a state Supreme Court lawsuit, James asserted the anti-abortion group and its affiliated "crisis pregnancy centers" used false and misleading statements to advertise a medically unproven treatment they call abortion pill reversal.

Heartbeat and the pregnancy centers — which describe themselves as pro-life — advertise the abortion pill reversal "as a safe and effective treatment that they claim can “reverse” medication abortions.

"In reality, abortion cannot be 'reversed,' and there is a glaring lack of scientific evidence to support (abortion pill reversal's) safety and effectiveness," James said in a statement, noting the only clinical trial conducted to evaluate the treatment "had to be halted due to concerns about patient safety."

What Heartbeat International says about NY abortion reversal lawsuit

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments over safety of the abortion pill, mifepristone.
The Supreme Court is hearing arguments over safety of the abortion pill, mifepristone.

The court battle comes after Heartbeat International and affiliates filed a lawsuit on April 30 in state Supreme Court seeking to block the state's case against abortion pill reversal treatments and claims.

Heartbeat and its affiliates — which the group described as a collective of pregnancy health and pro-life ministries — are represented by Thomas More Society, a Chicago-based nonprofit law firm involved in religious liberty cases nationally that are opposed to abortion.

"This is a political witch-hunt against small nonprofits that have selflessly served New York’s pregnant women and their children for over 50 years," Thomas More's head of litigation Peter Breen said in a statement on the lawsuit.

New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference at the Office of the Attorney General in New York on Feb. 16, 2024.
New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference at the Office of the Attorney General in New York on Feb. 16, 2024.

Heartbeat asserted James' lawsuit violated its free speech and due process rights protected under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, as well as related protections under the state Constitution and civil rights law, court records show.

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What abortion pill reversal lawsuit says

The court battle involves claims related to medication abortion, which involves taking two oral medications — first, mifepristone followed by misoprostol 24 to 48 hours later.

The abortion pill reversal treatment involves administering repeated doses of progesterone, a hormone bodies naturally produce during pregnancy, to a pregnant person who has taken mifepristone but has not yet taken misoprostol.

Rebecca Gomperts, medical doctor and director of aid access from the Netherlands protests outside The Supreme Court on March 26, 2024, as the court hears oral arguments over access to mifepristone, a drug used in medication abortions. Mifepristone accounts for over half of all abortions performed in the United States.
Rebecca Gomperts, medical doctor and director of aid access from the Netherlands protests outside The Supreme Court on March 26, 2024, as the court hears oral arguments over access to mifepristone, a drug used in medication abortions. Mifepristone accounts for over half of all abortions performed in the United States.

James asserted that use of progesterone is "not an accepted mainstream medical practice, and there is no credible scientific evidence proving that the treatment is safe or effective" in reversing abortions. She added the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have also cautioned that it is not backed by science and does not meet clinical standards.

According to James, the allegedly false, misleading and deceptive business claims made by Heartbeat and the pregnancy centers on websites, social media and other promotional materials include:

  • “Can the abortion pill be reversed? The simple answer is yes! If done in time.”

  • “There is an effective process called abortion pill reversal that can reverse the effects of the abortion pill and allow you to continue your pregnancy, but time is of the essence.”

  • “Using the natural hormone progesterone, medical professionals have been able to save 64-68% of pregnancies through abortion pill reversal.”

Heartbeat's lawsuit asserted James' office has "no business butting into the intimate medical decision of an expectant mother, in consultation with the medical professional of her choice, to carry her pregnancy to term and save her unborn baby from the disastrous effects of mifepristone while there is still time to undo the effects of that powerful chemical."

"For decades, doctors have been prescribing supplemental progesterone for pregnant women at serious risk for miscarriage," Breen said in a statement, "but because this safe and long-established practice may actually reverse abortions, ideologues like Letitia James now want to squelch it."

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Where are pregnancy centers offering abortion pill reversal treatment?

James noted the 11 pregnancy centers named in the lawsuit are:

  • Adirondack Pregnancy Center, Inc., or AscentCare in Saranac Lake, Franklin County;

  • Crisis Pregnancy Services, Inc., or CompassCare in Rochester, Monroe County; Buffalo, Erie County; Latham, Albany County; and Brooklyn Heights, Kings County;

  • The Care Center, or Soundview Pregnancy Services in East Meadow, Nassau County; and Centereach and Riverhead, Suffolk County;

  • New Hope Family Services, Inc. in Syracuse, Onondaga County;

  • Pregnancy Center of Penn Yan, or Care Net Penn Yan in Penn Yan, Yates County;

  • Study the Options Please, Inc., or Care Net of Wayne County in Newark, Wayne County;

  • Pregnancy Center of Central New York, or Willow Network in Boonville, Camden, Rome, and Utica, Oneida County; Ilion, Herkimer County; Liverpool, Onondaga County; and Morrisville and Oneida, Madison County;

  • Crisis Pregnancy Center, Inc., or Care Net Pregnancy Center of the Hudson Valley in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County;

  • 1st Way Life Center, Inc. in Monticello, Sullivan County;

  • Caring Choices Pregnancy Help Center, Inc. in Rochester and Webster, Monroe County; and

  • Bridge Women’s Support Center in College Point, Queens County.

This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: NY sues crisis pregnancy centers over 'abortion pill reversal' claim