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California sues Bay Area crisis pregnancy centers for offering ‘unproven’ abortion-pill reversal

California sues Bay Area crisis pregnancy centers for offering ‘unproven’ abortion-pill reversal

California sued Bay Area crisis pregnancy centers Thursday for offering an abortion pill reversal procedure that Attorney General Rob Bonta said is unproven and largely experimental.

The lawsuit against Heartbeat International, a national anti-abortion group, and RealOptions Obria, which operates pregnancy centers in San Jose, Oakland, Redwood City and Union City, accuses them of deceptive and fraudulent advertising of the abortion pill reversal procedure in violation of California’s false advertising and unfair competition laws.

“Those who are struggling with the complex decision to get an abortion deserve support and trustworthy guidance — not lies and misinformation,” Bonta said. “We are launching today’s lawsuit to put a stop to their predatory and unlawful behavior.”

Heartbeat International and RealOptions Obria representatives were not immediately available for comment.

Abortion pills have become a central front in the nation’s battles over the procedure that erupted anew with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson last year overturning a constitutional right to abortion created by the court’s Roe v. Wade decision nearly 50 years earlier.

With states now free to enact abortion limits, abortion rights supporters have looked to abortion pills, which can be taken at home and now account for more than half of abortions, as key to maintaining access for many women.

Medication abortion typically uses a combination of two drugs — mifepristone and misoprostol — taken within 24 to 48 hours of each other to end a pregnancy up to 10 weeks of gestation.

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According to RealOptions Obria’s website, mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone, a process that can be reversed by giving the pregnant woman progesterone to restore normal hormone levels. RealOptions says this procedure “has been used for a very long time” as a fertility treatment to help women prone to miscarriages through a successful pregnancy, and has been effective.

RealOptions says on its website that it began offering abortion pill reversal last October and that the procedure had been through four or five years of trials in Southern California and on the East Coast. The pregnancy centers say that “so far we have had two patients who are sustaining their pregnancies and are in their second trimester.” They added that “right now we have one patient with twins and so far they are both growing and thriving equally and that’s success to us.”

But Bonta said the procedure has no credible scientific backing, and has potential risks for patients who undergo it. He said that the first and only credible study that tried to test the safety and efficacy of abortion pill reversal had to be halted after three of its 12 participants experienced severe bleeding and had to be rushed by ambulance to the emergency room. That, he said, raises questions about the risks of stopping a medication abortion midway and trying to reverse it.

Bonta said leading medical associations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association, have spoken out against abortion pill reversal and refused to support its use.

Anti-abortion groups have been challenging the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, though the Supreme Court has allowed its use while the legal proceedings play out.

California officials have taken several steps to maintain access to medication abortion.

Check back for more on this developing story.