December 8, 2023

By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) – California on Thursday sued two anti-abortion organizations for telling patients that they can help reverse the effects of the abortion pill mifepristone, a potentially dangerous claim not supported by evidence.

In a complaint filed in Alameda County Superior Court, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, a Democrat, accused Heartbeat International (HBI) and RealOptions Obria of violating a state law against fraudulent business practices.

“Those who are struggling with the complex decision to get an abortion deserve support and trustworthy guidance – not lies and misinformation,” Bonta said in a statement.

His lawsuit seeks a court order blocking the defendants from advertising abortion pill reversal, though it does not seek to stop the practice itself.

HBI said in a statement that it had not yet been served with the lawsuit. It said women who regret taking mifepristone “deserve the right to try and save their pregnancies.”

RealOptions did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

RealOptions operates five crisis pregnancy centers in California, and provides abortion pill reversal, according to the complaint. Such centers offer help to pregnant women with the goal of preventing them from having abortions.

HBI is an international anti-abortion group affiliated with more than 2,000 crisis pregnancy centers around the country. Through its website, it offers to connect women to providers who will perform abortion pill reversal.

Mifepristone is taken as the first step in medication abortion, followed by a second drug, misoprostol. Proponents of medication abortion reversal say mifepristone’s effects can be blocked by a high dose of the hormone progesterone.

The only clinical trial of the process was halted early after three of 12 patients experienced severe bleeding requiring them to go to the hospital.

Colorado earlier this year banned the treatment. Kansas passed a law requiring healthcare providers to tell patients that medication abortion can be reversed, which Planned Parenthood is challenging.

A Texas judge in April suspended federal approval for mifepristone in response to a lawsuit by anti-abortion activists. His order is on hold while President Joe Biden’s administration appeals it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York, Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Bill Berkrot)

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