OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) — The California attorney general announced a lawsuit on Thursday against two organizations over abortion pill reversal treatment, calling their statements about it “false and misleading.”
Heartbeat International Inc. and RealOptions have claimed taking such a pill after using mifepristone — the first drug in a two-step medical abortion — can reverse its effects and contribute to a pregnancy’s continuation, Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a press conference.
“Here’s the problem: There’s absolutely no scientific basis to support the claim,” Bonta said. “I can’t emphasize that enough for anyone who’s listening.”
Both organizations know this, yet continue to advertise and promote abortion pill reversal, saying it can be safe and effective even after taking misoprostol — the second part of the two-drug regimen — or when taken over 72 hours after taking the first dose of mifepristone.
Bonta in the suit asks an Alameda County Superior Court judge, among other things, to stop the false and misleading statements by the two groups and impose a penalty of up to $2,500 per violation against each group. He also seeks to recoup the costs of the legal action. He said their actions are violating California’s False Advertising Law and Unfair Competition Law.
The attorney general says Californians have the right to access safe and legal abortions, the right to facts about the procedure and the right to make informed decisions. A percentage of people — 0.004% — may reconsider their decision to have an abortion in the middle of a medically induced procedure. Those people likely would experience emotional turmoil, be anxious and not know what choices they have. They deserve accurate information.
According to Bonta, Heartbeat International has stated that abortion pill reversal has a 64% to 68% success rate, which he called “lies” and “deception.”
Heartbeat International pulls its 64% statistic from a 2018 report Bonta in the lawsuit calls unreliable. The percentage was reached by multiplying the number of pregnant people in that report who remained pregnant after taking the abortion reversal pill at 13 weeks, Bonta said.
“In other words, HBI’s statement is speculation, not evidence,” Bonta said in the suit. “As a result, HBI’s statements are misleading.”
Additionally, the groups don’t tell people about severe bleeding as a possible side effect.
A study designed to test abortion pill reversal had to stop after three of its 12 participants were taken to an emergency room for bleeding. Medical organizations like the American Medical Association refuse to support abortion pill reversal, Bonta said.
No studies show abortion pill reversal is safe and effective, he added.
Heartbeat International and RealOptions call it a valid option. A website for RealOptions had a part of its site dedicated to the procedure.
“Do you regret your decision and wish you could reverse the effects of the abortion pill?” the website stated. “We may be able to help! There is an effective process called abortion pill reversal. Contact us, time is of the essence!”
Heartbeat International said in a statement that it hadn’t yet been served the suit.
The group said it knows from calls to its hotline that some women immediately regret their decision to have a chemical abortion. They deserve the right to try to save those pregnancies. Major studies show abortion pill reversal can be effective, as it’s a hormone the body produces to sustain pregnancies.
“To date, statistics show more than 4,500 women have had successful abortion pill reversals and that number grows higher each day,” the group said.
RealOptions couldn’t be reached for comment as of publication time.
Bonta said there are more crisis pregnancy centers, like the ones operated by RealOptions, in California than abortion provider facilities. Crisis pregnancy centers don’t provide abortions or refer people to them. They also have no comprehensive reproductive health care.
“They often look like and are located near real health care facilities,” Bonta said.
Bonta advised people to visit websites like abortion.ca.gov for accurate information.
“Access to reproductive health care is your right,” Bonta said. “Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
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