Louisiana Looks to Criminalize Possession of Abortion Drugs

Bill would make mifepristone and misoprostol 'controlled dangerous substances'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2024 6:15 AM CDT
Louisiana Looks to Criminalize Possession of Abortion Drugs
A patient prepares to take the first of two combination pills, mifepristone, for a medication abortion during a visit to a clinic in Kansas City, Kan., on, Oct. 12, 2022.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Louisiana could become the first state to label abortion pills as controlled dangerous substances. Lawmakers have added a last-minute amendment to a bill, SB 276, that would criminalize an abortion involving a pregnant woman given abortion pills without her consent. The bill unanimously passed the Senate last month. The amendment would add abortion drugs mifepristone and misoprostol to the state's Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law, alongside narcotics, and criminalize their possession without a valid prescription or outside of professional practice, the Washington Post reports, adding that the bill is expected to pass the House "with little opposition" within the next three weeks.

Its sponsor, GOP Sen. Thomas Pressly, says it's needed to "control the rampant illegal distribution of abortion-inducing drugs," which are "frequently abused" and "a risk to the health of citizens." More than 240 doctors in the state have criticized the provision, written with input from Louisiana Right to Life, as "not scientifically based" and say it "creates the false perception that these are dangerous drugs that require additional regulation." "Neither mifepristone nor misoprostol have been shown to have any potential for abuse, dependence, public health risk, nor high rates of adverse side effects," the letter reads, per CNN.

Doctors note misoprostol can prevent stomach ulcers in people taking NSAID medications; is used to soften the cervix during labor, biopsies for cancer, and the placement of IUDs; and can stop postpartum hemorrhage after miscarriage, a leading cause of maternal mortality in Louisiana. Pressly notes misoprostol and mifepristone could still be "prescribed or dispensed for legitimate reasons." Pregnant women in possession of the drugs for their own consumption are exempt from prosecution under the bill. But a person who helped them acquire the drugs who is not a health-care practitioner could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, per CNN. (More Louisiana stories.)

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