New York attorney sues pro-life groups over abortion pill reversal process

(OSV News) -- New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Heartbeat International, an anti-abortion group, and 11 crisis pregnancy centers May 6, accusing them of misleading and potentially causing harm to women by claiming that they can provide a treatment that reverses the effect of the abortion pill mifepristone.

The groups named in the lawsuit preemptively sued James April 30, arguing her threatened suit violated their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Proponents say administering a dose of progesterone in an attempt to stop the effects of a medication abortion, a process sometimes called abortion pill reversal, can halt the effects of mifepristone, the first of two drugs used in a medication or chemical abortion. But opponents argue that it is an unproven method. A 2019 study of the abortion reversal process was ended early due to safety concerns.

In a statement, James said, "Abortions cannot be reversed."

"Any treatments that claim to do so are made without scientific evidence and could be unsafe," James said. "Heartbeat International and the other crisis pregnancy center defendants are spreading dangerous misinformation by advertising 'abortion reversals' without any medical and scientific proof. Amid the increase in attacks on reproductive health care nationwide, we must protect pregnant people’s right to make safe, well-informed decisions about their health.

"Your reproductive health care decisions are yours and yours alone, and my office will always protect New Yorkers from those who push a scientifically unproven and potentially life-threatening intervention."

Peter Breen, the Thomas More Society's executive vice president and head of litigation, said in a statement that James "has decided to proceed full steam ahead with her witch-hunt against New York's pregnancy help organizations."

Breen called the lawsuit "baseless" and argued James "is seeking to keep in the dark women who desire to urgently try to continue their pregnancies.""On April 30, we preemptively sued Ms. James on behalf of our clients -- Heartbeat International, CompassCare and a group of New York pro-life pregnancy help organizations -- after they were blitzed with 'Notice of Intention to Sue' threat letters from Ms. James’ office," Breen said. "We will fight back, as long as it takes, against Ms. James' efforts to jeopardize the Christian and life-affirming missions of Heartbeat International, CompassCare, and all similar pro-life ministries in New York."

Breen called the abortion pill reversal process "a safe and effective option for pregnant mothers who have taken the first abortion pill, immediately regret it, and seek to save their unborn babies’ lives."

"The administration of supplemental progesterone, which is the heart of the Abortion Pill Reversal protocol, has been used for decades to help pregnant women at serious risk for miscarriage," he said. "And thousands of pregnant women, at risk of miscarriage because of taking the abortion pill, were able to have healthy babies because of the timely application of supplemental progesterone through the Reversal protocol."“We will strenuously defend our clients' right to offer facts, as well as hope, to women in their most difficult circumstances," he said.

In a statement issued April 30, Jor-El Godsey, president of Heartbeat International, said, "New York State laws protect abortionists and abortion on demand up until birth."

"Now they are targeting those who assist a woman in exercising her right to continue her own pregnancy," Godsey said. "It is unconscionable to see the abortion industry and its paid-for politicians go so far as to insist she complete an abortion she no longer wants."

California's attorney general filed a similar lawsuit in September. A federal judge temporarily blocked Colorado in 2023 from implementing a ban abortion pill reversal treatment, siding with a Catholic medical center, while that facility's challenge is considered.

- - - Kate Scanlon is a national reporter for OSV News covering Washington. Follow her on X (formerly Twitter) @kgscanlon.