Heartbeat, pregnancy help orgs sue New York AG over targeting them for life-affirming ministry

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Heartbeat International and a group of New York pregnancy help organizations are suing the attorney general of the state of New York to block the AG’s threatened legal action targeting their pro-life ministries with women and families.

In what is being called “a political witch-hunt” Attorney General Letitia James sent “Notice of Intention to Sue” threat letters last week to Heartbeat and at least a dozen pregnancy help organizations that offer or share information about the Abortion Pill Reversal (APR) protocol.

Heartbeat International is the largest network of pregnancy help organizations in both the U.S. and the world and manages the Abortion Pill Rescue® Network (APRN), a network of more than 1,400 healthcare professionals, pregnancy centers and hospitals that administer the APR protocol.

James’ threat letter falsely accuses the targeted pregnancy help organizations of “repeated and persistent misleading statements and omissions,” and gave them five business days to explain why James should not sue them for false advertising.

Heartbeat and the pregnancy help organizations are represented by legal non-profit Thomas More Society, which filed a verified complaint in the Supreme Court of New York against James April 30, outlining how her threatened prosecution and intimidation of pregnancy help organizations violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, the New York Constitution and state civil rights law.

“This is a political witch-hunt against small nonprofits that have selflessly served New York’s pregnant women and their children for over 50 years,” said Peter Breen, Thomas More Society executive vice president and head of Litigation. “Letitia James should be heralding these charities, not launching outrageously false claims against them under laws that don’t apply to their noncommercial speech.”

Tweet This: This is a political witch-hunt against small nonprofits that have selflessly served NY’s pregnant women and their children for over 50 years

The president of Heartbeat International commented on the double standard favoring abortion over life-affirming ministry in the state of New York, and how this is antithetical to actual choice for women.  

“New York State laws protect abortionists and abortion on demand up until birth,” Jor-El Godsey said. “Now they are targeting those who assist a woman in exercising her right to continue her own pregnancy. It is unconscionable to see the abortion industry and its paid-for politicians go so far as to insist she complete an abortion she no longer wants.”

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The lawsuit against James notes that the attorney general “has taken no action against patently false and misleading statements about the safety and efficacy of chemical abortion by pro-abortion providers who enjoy her favor, including Planned Parenthood, despite clear evidence of risks and actual serious harm from the chemical abortion regimen to paying consumers, while targeting life-affirming pregnancy help organizations for legal action with no evidence of false or misleading statements or injury to anyone from their charitable free services.” (emphasis in the original)

Abortion Pill Reversal is an updated application of a treatment used for decades to combat miscarriage. It involves administering progesterone, the natural hormone in a woman’s body necessary to sustain pregnancy, to counter the effects of mifepristone, the first drug in the two-drug chemical abortion regimen.

Chemical abortion works first by mifepristone blocking progesterone, starving the unborn child of nutrients, and then with the second drug, misoprostol, taken a day or so later, causing the woman to deliver her presumably deceased child.

If a woman acts quickly enough after taking the first abortion pill and without having taken the second abortion drug, it may be possible to save her child through Abortion Pill Reversal.

Heartbeat has numerous first-hand accounts of mothers who have reversed their chemical abortions and statistics show that more than 5,000 children have been saved through the APR protocol.

“For decades, doctors have been prescribing supplemental progesterone for pregnant women at serious risk for miscarriage, but because this safe and long-established practice may actually reverse abortions, ideologues like Letitia James now want to squelch it,” Breen said. “Ms. James’ Notices of Intention to Sue are a transparent attempt to harass small pro-life charities into silence, targeting her political opponents because of their beliefs, in flagrant violation of the First Amendment.”

While abortion proponents continually claim that APR is unproven and unsafe all major studies show that using progesterone to counteract an in-progress chemical abortion can be effective since it’s bio-identical to the hormone a woman’s body produces to sustain her pregnancy.

Further, the study most often cited by abortion advocates to make negative claims about APR, the Creinin study, though incomplete, actually showed an effective reversal rate of 80% and confirmed the dangerous side effects of mifepristone, the first abortion pill.

Heartbeat and pregnancy help organizations that serve women and families experiencing unplanned pregnancy contend that women deserve information, compassion, and support when making a pregnancy decision, and that no woman should ne denied the choice to try and save her child if she has started a chemical abortion and no longer wishes to continue with that abortion.

“Women deserve to know about the opportunity to exercise their constitutional right to continue their pregnancies and have their babies, and they do not lose that right simply because they started the chemical abortion process,” said Danielle White, general counsel for Heartbeat International. “By threatening lawfare to silence anyone who dares speak hope to these women, Attorney General James is harming the very women she claims to protect.”

Tweet This: Women deserve to know about the opportunity to exercise their constitutional right to continue their pregnancies and have their babies.

Andrea Trudden, vice president of Communications for Heartbeat International concurred.

“Women's health should never be a pawn in political agendas,” Trudden said. “Denying access to crucial options like abortion pill reversal undermines women's autonomy and their right to make informed choices.”

“Every woman deserves the freedom to make decisions about her pregnancy with dignity and support,” she added. “Targeting life-affirming pregnancy help organizations is not just unjust, it's an attack on the very essence of healthcare.”

The legal overture from James follows California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s lawsuit against Heartbeat and affiliated RealOptions Obria Medical Clinics initiated last fall to ban both from “advertising Abortion Pill Reversal as safe and effective.”

The letters sent to Heartbeat and the New York pregnancy help organizations fall into an apparent pattern of bias against pregnancy help by officials in the state.

In June 2022 New York health officials had initiated particular scrutiny of pregnancy help organizations as widespread attacks were conducted upon the organizations in the wake of the Supreme Court Dobbs ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

On June 13, 2022, just prior to the Dobbs decision Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a premiere legislative package touted as “protecting abortion and reproductive rights for all.”

The New York Attorney General website contains a page stating that “abortion care is basic health care” and pejoratively warning against pregnancy centers.

New York State similarly has a page warning against pregnancy centers and others affirming chemical abortion.

Meanwhile, the Pregnancy Center State Impact Report prepared for the NYS Coalition for Life found that in 2019, pregnancy centers provided services and materials valued at nearly $3.6 million in the state of New York serving women, men, youth, and families.

This included:

  • $ 1,446,233 in medical services, including 7,615 free pregnancy tests, 4,568 free ultrasounds, 1,526 STD/STI tests.
  • $ 1,582,426 in family services, including 14,051 free new client consultations, 12,112 students attending free sexual risk avoidance presentations, 5,101 clients receiving free parenting education, 631 clients receiving free after-abortion support and recovery services.
  • $ 553,923 in material items, including diapers, baby wipes, baby clothing, car seats, and strollers, for a total of 79,737 free baby items given to families in need.

Given the magnitude of services and support provided to women and families by pregnancy help organizations in the state of New York, Kathy Jerman, executive director of New Hope Family Services and president of the NYS Coalition for Life, expressed confusion at the ongoing targeted attacks by the State of New York on pregnancy resource centers.

This is especially true, Jerman said, as the centers simply provided the personalized care and pro-woman support that their clients urgently need.

“The New York Attorney General is falsely accusing our centers of sharing misinformation with our clients about this life-saving protocol,” Jerman said. “It is simply not true. Abortion Pill Reversal gives women a second chance to choose life.”

“If we truly believe that women should have a choice in her pregnancy decision,” Jerman added, “then she should also have the choice to reconsider her abortion after taking the first chemical abortion pill.”

Editor's note: Heartbeat International manages the Abortion Pill Rescue® Network (APRN) and Pregnancy Help News.

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