Abortion Pills on Brink of Being Reclassified in Louisiana

State House and Senate have both passed bill
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2024 12:30 AM CDT
Updated May 23, 2024 2:10 PM CDT
Louisiana Lawmakers Pass Abortion Pill Ban
Boxes of the drug mifepristone sit on a shelf at the West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on March 16, 2022.   (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed, File)
UPDATE May 23, 2024 2:10 PM CDT

Louisiana is one signature away from being the first US state to reclassify two abortion-inducing drugs as dangerous controlled substances. The State Senate passed the bill 29-7 on Thursday, and GOP Gov. Jeff Landry is expected to sign it. The law would move the abortion pills mifepristone and misoprostol into the category of Schedule IV drugs like Valium and Xanax, the New York Times reports. The AP explains a prescription for both drugs is already required in Louisiana, which has made it a crime to use them to induce an abortion in most cases. The reclassification would add the requirement that doctors hold a specific license to prescribe the drugs, which would be stored in designated facilities that might not be easily accessible by rural clinics.

May 22, 2024 12:30 AM CDT

As expected, Louisiana's Republican-controlled state House on Tuesday easily passed a bill that would criminalize two drugs commonly used to induce abortions. The bill now goes back to the state Senate, which had passed the original version of the bill unanimously before the amendment criminalizing mifepristone and misoprostol was added, the Washington Post reports. If the amended version passes the state Senate, Gov. Jeff Landry is expected to sign it into law. It would add the two medications to the state's list of controlled dangerous substances, NBC News reports. Anyone found to possess them without a valid prescription could be fined or even jailed, though the bill exempts pregnant women from prosecution.

It's already illegal, with very limited exceptions, to prescribe the drugs for the purpose of abortion in Louisiana due to the state's abortion ban, but they can be used for other things including the treatment of ulcers, miscarriages, or to aid in labor and delivery. The original bill aimed to criminalize "coerced criminal abortion by means of fraud"; it was sponsored by a Republican state legislator who says his sister's ex-husband tried to give her an abortion pill without her knowledge while the lawmaker's sister was pregnant. One Democrat state rep responded to the later addition of the amendment:

  • "Everyone was blindsided. This was attached to a very specific bill—in response to the horrible thing that happened to his sister. Then this different issue comes in. It was like the senator pulled a fast one. Changing the category of the medications is just malicious, and now every conservative state in the country will be copying it."
(More Louisiana stories.)

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