Rob Bonta, California's attorney general, announced a lawsuit Thursday against an anti-abortion group and five anti-abortion centers in the state over pushing unproven treatment advertised to "reverse" a medication-induced abortion. File Photo by David Paul Morris/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 22 (UPI) -- California is suing an anti-abortion group and a chain of five anti-abortion centers operating in the state on accusations they mislead women with unproven claims about being able to reverse a medication-induced abortion.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the lawsuit against Heartbeat International and RealOptions Obria on Thursday concerning their "abortion pill reversal" treatment, saying there is no scientific backing to support their claims and that their treatment comes with potential risks for patients who undergo it.
"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.
"HBI 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."
HBI -- which, according to its website, has a worldwide network of more than 3,000 anti-abortion organizations -- operates the Abortion Pill Rescue Network and the Abortion Pill Reversal hotline, with RealOptions advertising its services at all five of its California clinics.
Medicinal abortions typically involve a person taking mifepristone and misoprostol within 24 to 48 hours of each other in order to terminate their pregnancy.
However, the abortion pill reversal protocol Heartbeat International and RealOptions advertise instructs those who wish to undo their medication-induced abortion to take high doses of progesterone within 72 hours of taking the first drug, mifepristone.
The theory is that as mifepristone is taken to block the effects of progesterone to induce an abortion, if enough progesterone is taken, it will counteract the mifepristone and maintain the pregnancy.
California accuses HBI and RealOptions of falsely claiming this procedure is effective. According to the indictment, HBI's main proof of efficacy is a 2018 report by its medical advisor, which the state says consists of "substantial deficiencies" and that the only rigorous study of the abortion pill reversal protocol suggests "potentially significant health risks" associated with stopping a medication-induced abortion after taking mifepristone.
California also attacks HBI's use of "reverse" and "reversal" on its website, through its hotline and description of its protocol as there is no credible scientific proof that it reverses medication-induced abortions, and that its treatment is more a "competition" between progesterone and mifepristone.
The lawsuit adds that HBI has made other misrepresentations, such as stating "thousands of lives have been saved" through its protocol, which is based on the number of people who took its procedure and were confirmed pregnant at 13 weeks and via statistics found in the controversial 2018 report.
"In other words, HBI's statement is speculation, not evidence. As a result, HBI's statements are misleading," the indictment states.
California is asking the court to block the defendants from making any untrue or misleading claims, and seeks other remedies and penalties available under state law.
UPI has contacted HBI for comment.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not support prescribing progesterone to stop a medication abortion and that medication abortion reversal is not supported by science.