May 25, 2024

Louisiana governor signs bill making abortion drugs ‘controlled dangerous substances’

abortion drugs

Louisiana Republican Gov. Jeff Landry signed a bill Friday classifying the abortion-inducing drugs misoprostol and mifepristone as Schedule IV controlled dangerous substances, a first-of-its-kind law that places them in the same category as narcotics and depressants.

“Requiring an abortion-inducing drug to be obtained with a prescription and criminalizing the use of an abortion drug on an unsuspecting mother is nothing short of common sense,” Landry said in a statement posted on X. “This bill protects women across Louisiana and I was proud to sign this bill into law today.”

Under the law, which took effect with the governor’s signature, it is now a crime to possess the abortion medication without a prescription, as well as to give the drugs to a person without their consent.

Anyone found in possession of the drugs without a valid prescription could face a felony charge punishable with up to five years in prison and fines of up to $5,000. Pregnant women in possession of mifepristone and misoprostol for their own consumption are exempt from such penalties. Louisiana doctors are also permitted under the law to prescribe the drugs.

A conviction in Louisiana for distribution or possession with intent to distribute Schedule IV drugs carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $15,000.

Abortion is already banned in Louisiana with no exceptions for rape or incest.

In a medication abortion, mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone, which is needed for a pregnancy to continue. A second drug, misoprostol, is taken within the next 24 to 48 hours. Misoprostol causes the uterus to contract, causing cramping and bleeding. Approved for other uses, such as preventing stomach ulcers, the drug has been available at pharmacies for decades.

As the bill made its way through the state’s legislature, its critics argued that mifepristone and misoprostol are not dangerous and do not require the same level of regulation as Schedule IV substances and warned that the bill could create false perceptions around the medications and prevent people from accessing necessary care.

Republican lawmakers and officials in the state, along with anti-abortion advocates, touted the legislation as a way to protect expectant mothers. The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Thomas Pressly, has argued the legislation would not prevent the prescribing or dispensing of the drugs “for legitimate reasons.”

“The doctors I have consulted with feel this provision will not harm healthcare for women,” Pressly, a Republican, said in rebutting a letter from 270 Louisiana physicians, health care providers and medical students expressing concerns over the reclassification.