Louisiana Becomes First State to Make Abortion Drugs Controlled Substances

‘This bill protects women across Louisiana and I was proud to sign this bill into law today,’ says Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry.
Louisiana Becomes First State to Make Abortion Drugs Controlled Substances
A woman looks at an abortion pill—RU-486, or mifepristone—displayed on a smartphone in Arlington, Va., on May 8, 2020. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)
Tom Ozimek

Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry on Friday signed a first-in-the-nation bill designating the abortion drugs mifepristone and misoprostol as controlled substances, requiring a prescription to obtain them and making their use on an unsuspecting mother a crime.

Mr. Landry signed the bill (SB 276) into law on May 24, a day after it cleared the Louisiana Senate and was sent to his desk for what was widely expected to be quick action.

“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,” Mr. Landry said in a statement. “This bill protects women across Louisiana and I was proud to sign this bill into law today.”

The new law criminalizes possession of mifepristone and misoprostol without a valid prescription, adding the two drugs to the list of Schedule IV drugs under the state’s Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law.

It also creates the crime of “coerced criminal abortion by means of fraud,” which is the act of giving the drugs to an unsuspecting mother to induce an abortion.

Penalties for violating the new law could result in fines and jail time.

According to health officials, mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone that is needed for a pregnancy to continue. When used with misoprostol, the pill is used to end a pregnancy through 10 weeks.

‘We Stand With the Women of Louisiana’: Landry

Critics of the bill have expressed concerns that one unintended consequence of it could be delaying treatment for women suffering complications from miscarriage, for which misoprostol is sometimes prescribed.

Under the bill’s provisions, doctors will have to have a specific license to prescribe the drugs and the pills will need to be stored in special facilities that could be located far from rural clinics.

A group of over 200 Louisiana doctors signed a letter expressing their opposition to the bill, warning that it could create a “barrier to physicians’ ease of prescribing appropriate treatment.”

The Biden administration has also criticized the bill.

“Extremists in Louisiana just passed legislation to criminalize the possession of safe and effective abortion medication with penalties of several years of jail time,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a post on X after it cleared the Louisiana legislature.

Mr. Landry responded to Ms. Harris’s criticism by insisting that the measure offers greater protections for women.

“Another day, another lie from the Biden administration,” Mr. Landry said in a post on X. “Proud to stand with our legislature to ensure this drug can be obtained legally and safely—ensuring the protection of all women. Without this bill, women and the unborn are more susceptible to predators.”
“Contrary to the false narrative that the media perpetuates, we stand with the women of Louisiana,” Mr. Landry, a Republican, added.

More Details

Abortion is already almost completely illegal in Louisiana, with an exception for cases involving a substantial threat to the mother’s life or a fatal fetal anomaly.

However, supporters of SB 276 argued that the law didn’t do enough to protect unsuspecting mothers from potential abusers who could obtain the abortion pills easily and use the drugs to inflict harm.

“What this bill is going to do is it’s going to make sure that our laws can hold accountable those individuals who are using deception to harm women and unborn children,” Republican state Rep. Julie Emerson said hours before the bill passed the House on May 21.

The bill was a product of personal experience for state Sen. Thomas Pressly, whose sister, Catherine Herring, was unknowingly slipped ground-up abortion pills seven times by her then-husband in an attempt to kill her unborn child. The baby survived thanks to the abortion pill reversal process, but the abortion attempts resulted in her premature delivery and had a lasting effect on her health.

The child’s father was sentenced to just 180 days in county jail.

Mr. Landry’s signing of the bill into law comes ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court’s anticipated ruling in a case involving mifepristone.

A coalition of doctors has challenged the Food and Drug Administration’s loosening of restrictions surrounding the prescription and distribution of the abortion drug. Advocates for mifepristone say the current system by which the drug is provided is safe, while opponents say it puts women at risk by ignoring safety measures that used to be in place.

During oral arguments in March, the court did not appear ready to limit access to mifepristone.

A ruling is expected by the end of June.

Samantha Flom and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Tom Ozimek is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times. He has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education.
Related Topics