Attorney General Bonta Sues Anti-Abortion Group, Five California Crisis Pregnancy Centers for Misleading Patients

Thursday, September 21, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

Lawsuit alleges companies used false and misleading claims to market unproven and potentially harmful ‘abortion pill reversal’ procedure

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced a lawsuit against Heartbeat International (HBI), a national anti-abortion group, and RealOptions Obria (RealOptions), a chain of five crisis pregnancy centers in Northern California. The lawsuit alleges that the two organizations used fraudulent and misleading claims to advertise an unproven and largely experimental procedure called “abortion pill reversal (APR)”. The procedure is touted by HBI and RealOptions as a safe and effective way to “reverse” a medication abortion — in reality, it has no credible scientific backing, and has potential risks for patients who undergo it. Given the lack of credible scientific evidence supporting APR’s safety and efficacy, it is crucial that pregnant patients are provided with accurate information before deciding whether to undergo this experimental procedure. Attorney General Bonta’s lawsuit, filed today in the Alameda County Superior Court, seeks to block HBI and RealOptions from falsely advertising APR as safe and effective.

“Those who are struggling with the complex decision to get an abortion deserve support and trustworthy guidance — not lies and misinformation,” said Attorney General Bonta. “And let me be clear: the evidence shows that the vast majority of people do not regret their decision to have an abortion — more than 95% of patients who undergo an abortion later say they made the right decision. 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. I urge any Californian seeking information related to reproductive care to visit our Reproductive Rights website, which lists programs and resources that can provide the accurate, timely, and reliable help they need.”

Medication abortion typically uses a combination of two drugs — mifepristone and misoprostol — taken within 24 to 48 hours of each other to terminate a pregnancy. Advocates of APR falsely claim that if a pregnant person takes high doses of the hormone progesterone within 72 hours of taking the first drug, mifepristone, it will safely and effectively cancel the effects of the mifepristone.

There is absolutely no scientific basis to support such a claim. While medication abortion has been proven by decades of research to be exceedingly safe and reliable, no credible research so far has supported the safety or efficacy of APR. The first and only credible study that tried to test the safety and efficacy of APR had to be halted after three of its 12 participants experienced severe bleeding and had to be rushed by ambulance to the emergency room, raising questions about the risks of stopping a medication abortion midway and of APR. In addition, numerous medical experts, and leading medical associations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association, have spoken out against APR and refused to support its use due to the lack of credible medical evidence supporting APR.

Despite the lack of scientific basis and lack of certainty about its safety, HBI and RealOptions falsely and illegally advertise APR as a valid and successful treatment option, and do not alert patients to possible side effects, such as the risk of severe bleeding. 

Today’s complaint alleges that HBI and RealOptions’ deceptive and fraudulent advertising of APR violates California’s False Advertising Law and Unfair Competition Law. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to block further dissemination of the misleading claims by the defendants, as well as other remedies and penalties available under state law.

California Attorney General Bonta remains committed to the fight to protect reproductive freedom in California. For more on his actions, and for key resources to assist you in obtaining reproductive healthcare, visit

If you are looking for information specific to abortions, the California Abortion Access website provides a safe space to find resources and guidance. The privacy of those who visit this website is protected, and their information is not saved or tracked.

A copy of today’s filed complaint can be found here.

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