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California Sues to Stop Crisis Pregnancy Centers From Helping Reverse Chemical Abortions

As chemical abortions grow, California is working to stop women from learning how they might reverse them.

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California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed a lawsuit last week in Alameda County seeking an injunction that would prevent pro-life ministries Heartbeat International and RealOptions Obria Medical Clinics from advertising abortion pill reversal treatment.

Photo by Janko Ferlic / Unsplash

Heartbeat International has built an emergency network of medical professionals called the Abortion Pill Rescue Network (APRN). Real Options Obria operates five crisis pregnancy centers in northern California.

The suit claims pro-life ministries have made “untrue and misleading” statements and engaged in “fraudulent acts” in an “attempt to induce members of the public to undergo [abortion pill reversal].”

The suit asks the court for an injunction preventing the pro-life groups from advertising the “experimental” abortion pill reversal procedure.

“Let me be clear: the evidence shows that the vast majority of people do not regret their decision to have an abortion — more than 95% of patients who undergo an abortion later say they made the right decision,” Bonta said in a press release about the lawsuit.

“[Heartbeat International] and RealOptions took advantage of pregnant patients at a deeply vulnerable time in their lives, using false and misleading claims to lure them in and mislead them about a potentially risky procedure. We are launching today’s lawsuit to put a stop to their predatory and unlawful behavior,” he added.

As of September 21, Heartbeat International had not yet been served with the lawsuit, but learned about it through interview requests. It responded, “Through our Abortion Pill Rescue Network hotline, we know that some women almost immediately regret their chemical abortion choice. These women deserve the right to try and save their pregnancies. No woman should ever be forced to complete an abortion she no longer wants.”

Ed Martin, an attorney with the American Life League believes the lawsuit is part of a growing trend by prosecutors to attack their political opponents through what has been termed “lawfare.”

He says the lawsuit is an effort to chill the free speech of pro-life groups who are trying to reach women and tell them about their options.

As chemical abortions grow in number, Martin says it is increasingly important to protect the right of women to receive full information about them and how they can be reversed.

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This is not California’s first attack on the abortion pill reversal process. In 2017, the state’s board of nursing sent a cease and desist letter to Heartbeat International to prevent it from offering continuing education to nurses about the abortion pill reversal treatment.

Over the last several years, and especially since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, the landscape of abortion has changed. Now, Heartbeat says over half of the abortions in the U.S. are chemical abortions.

A chemical abortion requires a two-pill combination. First mifepristone (RU-486) is taken to block the effects of progesterone, a hormone necessary for a pregnancy to thrive, then misoprostol works to expel the baby.

According to Heartbeat’s president Jor-El Godsey, the reversal process was pioneered by Dr. Matthew Harrison and Dr. George Delgado.

Godsey said 75% of the women who contact APRN do so within 24 hours of taking the first dose. And if doctors are able to intervene within 72 hours of the first pill, women have the best of chance of success—between 64% and 68%—Godsey said.

A medical provider prescribes bioidentical progesterone to outnumber and outcompete the mifepristone in order to reverse the effects.

In his press release, Bonta claims, “There is absolutely no scientific basis to support such a claim.”

“I urge any Californian seeking information related to reproductive care to visit our Reproductive Rights website,” Bonta said. The website points users to abortion providers and “warns” them about the work of crisis pregnancy centers.

Not only is there anecdotal evidence about the success of the reversal treatment by mothers who regretted taking the abortion pill, but there are also published medical studies supporting the use of progesterone to sustain pregnancy.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University. She has home schooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years.