California Attorney General Rob Bonta sued an anti-abortion group on Thursday, claiming the organization misled women when they offered them unproven treatment to reverse medication abortions.
According to the lawsuit, Heartbeat International, a national anti-abortion group, and RealOptions Obria, which has five anti-abortion counseling centers in Northern California, used “fraudulent and misleading claims to advertise a procedure called abortion pill reversal.”
Medication abortions involve taking two prescription medicines, mifepristone and misoprostol, days apart either at home or in a clinic. The lawsuit claims the groups told pregnant people that taking high doses of the hormone progesterone within 72 hours of taking mifepristone would cancel the effects.
Abortion laws create confusion
The lawsuit states that despite the lack of scientific evidence and lack of certainty about its safety, the companies are still falsely and illegally advertise the treatment as a valid and successful option and fail to disclose possible side effects such as the risk of severe bleeding.
According to the LA Times, a study being conducted in 2019 at UC Davis on abortion pill reversal was stopped when three out of the 12 participants were sent to the hospital due to “very significant bleeding.”
There are clinics throughout the state that advertise “abortion pill reversal” who are licensed by the California Department of Public Health, including the RealOptions center listed in the lawsuit.
RealOptions has “crisis pregnancy centers” in San Jose, Oakland, Redwood City, and Union City. The anti-abortion centers aim to dissuade people from getting an abortion.
A report by the Alliance, a women’s advocacy collaborative, put out last year stated that there are at least 165 crisis pregnancy centers in California and outnumber abortion clinics.
The report also stated that many of the centers in the state make “deceptive and misleading” claims, have no physician on staff, and off ultrasounds, but don’t recognize them as a medical service but as a “keepsake” or souvenir.
Bonta emphasized in the lawsuit that abortion pill reversal treatments are unproven, largely experimental, and have no scientific backing.
“Those who are struggling with the complex decision to get an abortion deserve support and trustworthy guidance – not lies and misinformation,” Bonta stated during a news conference in Oakland on Thursday.
The lawsuit states that the Heartbeat International and RealOptions’ deceptive advertising of abortion pill reversal treatments violates California’s False Advertising Law and Unfair Competition Law. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to block further dissemination of the claims by the defendants, as well as other remedies and penalties available under state law, according to Bonta’s office.
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