New York News

Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers Sue NY Attorney General For Censoring Speech

New York Attorney General Letitia James is pictured in a Feb. 16, 2024, photo. The Alliance Defending Freedom law firm filed suit May 25 against the attorney general over her litigation against pro-life pregnancy centers. (Photo: OSV News/David Dee Delgado, Reuters)

WASHINGTON — A group of pro-life pregnancy centers has filed a lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James accusing her of censorship and religious discrimination. 

The centers take issue with James’ recent lawsuit against them saying they were misleading women with claims that a high dosage of the hormone progesterone could reverse the effects of the abortion pill mifepristone.

The federal lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York on May 24, accuses the attorney general of “using the power of the State to censor viewpoints she disfavors about progesterone treatment.”

“She is unlawfully targeting pro-life pregnancy centers, threatening punishment for promoting and offering a service that gives women the option of changing their mind and attempting to save their baby’s life,” said a statement from Alliance Defending Freedom, that represents National Institute of Family and Life Advocates and two of its New York members, Gianna’s House and Options Care Center.

On May 6, James sued Heartbeat International, a pro-life group, and 11 crisis pregnancy centers, accusing them of misleading and potentially causing harm to women by their claims of a treatment to stop the effect of mifepristone — the first part of a two-drug regimen used in medication abortions.

James asked a judge to issue an injunction to stop the groups from promoting what they described as an abortion pill reversal.

Gabriella McIntyre, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement that “many women regret their abortions, and some seek to stop the effects of chemical abortion drugs before taking the second drug in the abortion drug process. Taking supplemental progesterone at that time can often save their baby’s life.”

She said James is “doing everything she can to deny women the freedom to make that choice” and said that women “should have the option to reconsider going through with an abortion” that the pro-life pregnancy centers inform them about.

“We are urging the court to affirm the pregnancy centers’ freedom to tell interested women about this lawful, life-saving treatment,” she added.

Opponents of medical abortion reversal claims stress that this method has not been proven to be effective. One study of this procedure in 2019 was not completed due to safety concerns.

In her lawsuit, James asked a state court to block pregnancy centers from promoting materials about abortion pill reversals on their websites, social media, and printed materials.

“Abortions cannot be reversed,” James said in a statement. “Any treatments that claim to do so are made without scientific evidence and could be unsafe.”

The lawsuit against James includes a claim from a woman identified as Maranda who said she gave birth to her daughter Myli’anna after a New York pro-life pregnancy center gave her information about progesterone treatment when she told them she regretted taking mifepristone.

In the lawsuit, Maranda said that if she hadn’t learned “about abortion pill reversal online, I would have completed the abortion and Myli’anna would not be alive today.”

This is the second round of lawsuits in this case because Heartbeat International along with crisis pregnancy centers in the state, represented by the Thomas More Society, had already filed a lawsuit the week before James’ lawsuit was issued in an attempt to block the attorney general’s action.

The groups were responding to letters of intention to sue that James’ office sent April 22 to centers that give information about abortion pill reversals.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said that the use of this method to stop medical abortions is not supported by science. It also says on its website that there have been no controlled clinical trials showing that the high dosage of progesterone to reverse the effects of mifepristone is safe or effective.

The New York lawsuits come at the same time that the U.S. Supreme Court is considering its opinion about the availability of mifepristone nationwide.

The action also follows a trend from other states. Last September, California’s attorney general filed a similar lawsuit against Heartbeat International and crisis pregnancy centers. 

A month later, a federal judge ruled that Colorado could not ban abortion pill reversal treatment and a judge in Kansas blocked a state law that would have required health care providers to tell patients that medication abortion can be reversed.