Pro-life groups accuse NY AG of censoring their work in new lawsuit

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New York Attorney General Letitia James is pictured in a Feb. 16, 2024, photo. The Alliance Defending Freedom public interest firm filed suit May 25 against the the attorney general over her litigation against pro-life pregnancy centers, which comes amid a broader investigative push seen in some U.S. states. (OSV News photo/David Dee Delgado, Reuters)

A group of pro-life organizations has filed a lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James, accusing the state’s top law enforcement official of a “censorship campaign against pro-life pregnancy centers.”

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, Gianna’s House, and Options Care Center, each a faith-based, pro-life pregnancy centers or affiliates, say James is seeking to prevent them from discussing a treatment they say can halt the effect of the abortion pill mifepristone — sometimes called abortion pill reversal — with their clients.

Earlier in May, James sued Heartbeat International, a pro-life group, and 11 crisis pregnancy centers, accusing them of misleading and potentially causing harm to women by claiming that they can provide a treatment that stops the effect of mifepristone. James asked a judge to issue an injunction to stop the groups named in her suit from advertising abortion pill reversal.

Gabriella McIntyre, legal counsel for ADF, said in a statement, “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.”

“The New York attorney general, however, is doing everything she can to deny women the freedom to make that choice,” McIntyre said. “Women should have the option to reconsider going through with an abortion, and the pro-life pregnancy centers we represent in this case truthfully inform them about that choice. We are urging the court to affirm the pregnancy centers’ freedom to tell interested women about this lawful, life-saving treatment.”

The federal lawsuit, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. James, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. The lawsuit argued that “The Attorney General is using the power of the State to censor viewpoints she disfavors about progesterone treatment.”

Proponents say that if a woman takes mifepristone, the first of two drugs used in a medication or chemical abortion, and regrets her decision, administering a dose of progesterone can halt the effects of that drug. But opponents argue that it is an unproven method. A 2019 study of the abortion reversal process was ended early due to safety concerns.

In a May 6 statement about her lawsuit, James said, “Abortions cannot be reversed.”

“Any treatments that claim to do so are made without scientific evidence and could be unsafe,” James said, arguing the defendants in her suit “are spreading dangerous misinformation by advertising ‘abortion reversals’ without any medical and scientific proof.”

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

Maranda is quoted in the suit as saying: “[i]f it wasn’t for the information about Abortion Pill Reversal online, I would have completed the abortion and Myli’anna would not be alive today.”

California’s attorney general filed a lawsuit similar to James’ in September. A federal judge temporarily blocked Colorado in 2023 from implementing a ban abortion pill reversal treatment, siding with a Catholic medical center, while that facility’s challenge is considered.

Kate Scanlon

Kate Scanlon is a national reporter for OSV News covering Washington.