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Louisiana House passes bill to make abortion pills a controlled dangerous substance

By 37ci3 May22,2024


The Louisiana House on Tuesday approved a bill that would add two drugs used to induce abortions to the state’s list of controlled dangerous substances, making possession of the drugs without valid prescriptions a felony punishable by fines, jail time or both.

The measure, which has drawn support from anti-abortion groups and alarm from medical professionals and reproductive rights advocates, would add the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol to Schedule IV of the state’s Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act. Abortion — both medical and surgical — is illegal in Louisiana, so prescribing drugs to terminate a pregnancy is already illegal, except in very limited circumstances.

According to the Reproductive Rights Think Tank, medication abortions accounted for 63% of all abortions last year. Guttmacher Institute.

The bill passed the GOP-controlled House by a vote of 64-29. It will now return to the Senate and, if approved, will be sent to the governor to be signed into law.

The legislation will make possession of the drugs without valid prescriptions or the direction of medical professionals shall be punished by imprisonment for up to five years. Pregnant women who obtain the drugs for their own consumption will not be held liable under the law.

Medical experts opposed the measure, saying the drugs have critical uses outside of abortion, including to aid in labor and delivery, treat labor and prevent gastrointestinal ulcers.

Schedule IV substances include some drugs; Drugs in the depressant category, such as Xanax and Valium; muscle relaxant; sleep aids; and stimulants that can be used to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and weight loss.

Draft law Act, Senate Bill 276, would also criminalize “criminal abortion by fraud,” which prohibits knowingly using drugs to induce or attempt an abortion without a pregnant person’s consent. This is punishable by up to 10 years, or up to 20 years if the pregnant person has been pregnant for three months or more.

Republican state Sen. Thomas Pressley, who introduced the bill, said the issue was a personal matter for him and his sister, Kathryn Herring. Herring’s estranged husband was charged that she slipped abortion pills into her drinks while pregnant with her third child. Mason Herring pleaded guilty In February, he was sentenced to 180 days in prison on charges of injuring a child and assaulting a pregnant woman.

Doctors and reproductive rights advocates expressed alarm at the bill, which would make Louisiana the only state to classify the two drugs as controlled dangerous substances.

Director of the New Orleans Health Department, emergency physician Dr. “They are safe and effective and not dangerous drugs of abuse to be on the controlled substance list,” Jennifer Avegno told NBC News on Tuesday. “From a medical point of view, health professionals think it’s bad science and not well informed.

“This is not about abortion. This is to use these drugs regularly, for many other things. Basically, No. 1 is facilitating a safe birth, No. 2 is managing the birth.”

Avegno is one of more than 250 doctors who wrote in a letter to Pressly that reclassifying the drugs would create a false impression that “these are dangerous drugs that require additional regulation” and that the proposal “is not scientifically sound.”

“Given historically poor maternal health outcomes, Louisiana must prioritize safe and evidence-based care for pregnant women,” the doctors said.

Pressly told NBC News on Tuesday that the goal of the bill is “certainly not to cause additional problems for our medical providers, but to ensure that these drugs are used properly and effectively for legitimate medical reasons outside of abortion. As previously stated, abortion in Louisiana is already is illegal.”

Mifepristone and misoprostol pills in a clinic for drug abortions.
Mifepristone and misoprostol pills in a clinic for drug abortions.Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune via Getty Images file

After the measure was introduced in the House on Tuesday afternoon, Democratic Rep. Mandie Landry called for a motion to be brought back to the Legislature’s Health and Welfare Committee on the amendment that would classify the drugs as controlled dangerous substances.

“This amendment is related to changing the timing of drugs that are used every day to induce labor, manage miscarriages, manage post-bleeding problems in pregnancy,” he said.

Landry said the reclassification would require certain storage areas to store the drugs, which could hurt rural clinics’ ability to access and provide them to patients.

“I think it’s terrible that this good bill has been hijacked by outsiders who are not doctors or even legislators,” he said.

Landry’s proposal was rejected by a vote of 66-30.

Julie Emerson, a Republican who introduced the bill for a House vote, said the amendment “doesn’t mean doctors can’t prescribe and administer it. “That doesn’t mean they can’t prescribe and people can go and get it and still use it.”

Abortion is prohibited in Louisiana in cases where it is necessary to save a pregnant woman’s life or prevent a “serious risk” to her health and the fetus is not expected to survive the pregnancy. A the legislative committee rejected the bill this month would add rape and nepotism to the exceptions.



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