Attorney General James Sues Anti-Abortion Group and 11 New York Crisis Pregnancy Centers for Promoting Unproven Abortion Reversal Treatment

Heartbeat International, Crisis Pregnancy Centers Used False and Misleading Claims to Convince Pregnant People to Receive Potentially Unsafe “Abortion Pill Reversal” Treatment

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today sued anti-abortion group Heartbeat International, Inc. (Heartbeat) and 11 self-professed “pro-life pregnancy organizations”—more commonly known as “crisis pregnancy centers”—throughout New York for using false and misleading statements to advertise an unproven treatment they call “Abortion Pill Reversal.” Heartbeat and the crisis pregnancy centers—whose mission is to prevent people from obtaining abortions—advertise “Abortion Pill Reversal” (APR) as a safe and effective treatment that they claim can “reverse” medication abortions. In reality, abortion cannot be “reversed,” and there is a glaring lack of scientific evidence to support APR’s safety and effectiveness. The only clinical trial conducted to evaluate APR had to be halted due to concerns about patient safety. Major medical associations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have cautioned that APR is not backed by science and does not meet clinical standards. 

Despite the dangers, crisis pregnancy centers throughout New York advertise APR on their websites and social media, claiming the treatment will reverse the effects of taking “the abortion pill.” According to their websites, some of these crisis pregnancy centers appear to offer or facilitate APR treatment on-site at their offices, while others direct people to obtain APR treatment through Heartbeat’s Abortion Pill Rescue Network. Attorney General James alleges that making false and misleading claims about APR to convince pregnant people to get the treatment constitutes fraud, deceptive business practices, and false advertising under New York law. 

Attorney General James seeks to stop Heartbeat and the crisis pregnancy centers from misleading consumers about the safety and effectiveness of APR by holding them to the same standard as any other entity advertising health care services directly to consumers in the state. Attorney General James is also seeking the payment of civil penalties for violations of the law.

“Abortions cannot be reversed. Any treatments that claim to do so are made without scientific evidence and could be unsafe,” said Attorney General James. “Heartbeat International and the other crisis pregnancy center defendants are spreading dangerous misinformation by advertising 'abortion reversals' without any medical and scientific proof. Amid the increase in attacks on reproductive health care nationwide, we must protect pregnant people’s right to make safe, well-informed decisions about their health. Your reproductive health care decisions are yours and yours alone, and my office will always protect New Yorkers from those who push a scientifically unproven and potentially life-threatening intervention.” 

Medication abortion involves taking two oral medications—first, mifepristone followed by misoprostol 24-48 hours later. Medical experts, including ACOG, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institute of Health agree that medication abortion is safe and effective. Medication abortion has grown in popularity as anti-abortion extremists continue to ramp up efforts to block access to abortion care in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. According to the Guttmacher Institute, medication abortion accounted for 63 percent of all U.S. abortions in 2023, an increase from just 53 percent in 2020. 

The APR treatment involves administering repeated doses of progesterone, a hormone bodies naturally produce during pregnancy, to a pregnant person who has taken mifepristone but has not yet taken misoprostol. The APR is not an accepted mainstream medical practice, and there is no credible scientific evidence proving that the treatment is safe or effective. Still, Heartbeat and crisis pregnancy centers advertise the treatment as if it is a clinically proven and safe way to reverse an abortion. 

APR (1)

Heartbeat and the 11 crisis pregnancy centers named in Attorney General James’ lawsuit aggressively advertise APR on their websites, social media, and other promotional materials using false and misleading claims that lead patients to think that APR is a proven and safe treatment with minimal risks, despite the lack of reliable scientific evidence, for example:

  • “Can the abortion pill be reversed? The simple answer is yes! If done in time.”  
  • “There is an effective process called abortion pill reversal* that can reverse the effects of the abortion pill and allow you to continue your pregnancy, but time is of the essence.” 
  • “Using the natural hormone progesterone, medical professionals have been able to save 64-68% of pregnancies through abortion pill reversal.” 

These false and misleading statements constitute persistent fraud and illegality under Executive Law 63(12) and deceptive business and false advertising practices in violation of sections 349 and 350 of the General Business Law. 

With this lawsuit, Attorney General James seeks to stop Heartbeat and the 11 New York crisis pregnancy centers from continuing to promote this unproven treatment in ways that are misleading about its experimental nature and potential risks. Specifically, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) seeks an order requiring the removal of all false and misleading claims in marketing materials and prohibiting further violations. Attorney General James is also seeking the payment of civil penalties for violations of the law.

In addition to Heartbeat, the 11 crisis pregnancy centers named in the lawsuit are: 

  • Adirondack Pregnancy Center, Inc. d/b/a AscentCare in Saranac Lake, Franklin County; 
  • Crisis Pregnancy Services, Inc. d/b/a CompassCare in Rochester, Monroe County; Buffalo, Erie County; Latham, Albany County; and Brooklyn Heights, Kings County; 
  • The Care Center d/b/a Soundview Pregnancy Services in East Meadow, Nassau County; and Centereach and Riverhead, Suffolk County; 
  • New Hope Family Services, Inc. in Syracuse, Onondaga County; 
  • Pregnancy Center of Penn Yan d/b/a Care Net Penn Yan in Penn Yan, Yates County; 
  • Study the Options Please, Inc. d/b/a Care Net of Wayne County in Newark, Wayne County; 
  • Pregnancy Center of Central New York d/b/a Willow Network in Boonville, Camden, Rome, and Utica, Oneida County; Ilion, Herkimer County; Liverpool, Onondaga County; and Morrisville and Oneida, Madison County; 
  • Crisis Pregnancy Center, Inc. d/b/a Care Net Pregnancy Center of the Hudson Valley in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County; 
  • 1st Way Life Center, Inc. in Monticello, Sullivan County; 
  • Caring Choices Pregnancy Help Center, Inc. in Rochester and Webster, Monroe County; and 
  • Bridge Women’s Support Center in College Point, Queens County. 

Today’s action is the latest in Attorney General James’ efforts to defend access to reproductive care and protect reproductive freedom in New York and nationwide. In April, Attorney General James led a coalition of attorneys general in urging Congress to expand access to reproductive health services and pass the Access to Family Building Act. In March, Attorney General James co-led a multistate coalition of attorneys general and filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in Idaho v. U.S. and Moyle v. U.S., urging the court to maintain a preliminary injunction that required Idaho hospitals to provide emergency abortion care consistent with the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). In January, Attorney General James led a coalition of 24 attorneys general urging the U.S. Supreme Court to protect access to mifepristone. In December 2022, Attorney General James secured a court order to stop militant anti-abortion group Red Rose Rescue from blocking access to abortion care in New York

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Attorney General James launched a pro bono legal hotline to provide legal support to patients and health care providers nationwide. New Yorkers are encouraged to call the New York abortion rights legal hotline at (212) 899-5567 for free legal information and resources about accessing abortion. 

This matter is being handled by Special Counsel for Reproductive Justice Galen Sherwin of the Executive Division, Bureau Chief Sandra Park and Assistant Attorney General Louisa Irving of the Civil Rights Bureau, and Bureau Chief Darsana Srinivasan and Assistant Attorney General Eve Woodin of the Health Care Bureau. The Civil Rights Bureau and the Health Care Bureau are both part of the Division for Social Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux. The Executive Division and the Division for Social Justice are both overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.