July 19, 2024
Louisiana Tightens Regulations on Abortion Pills to Prevent Poisoning Pregnant Mothers

Louisiana Tightens Regulations on Abortion Pills to Prevent Poisoning Pregnant Mothers

(Headline USA) Two abortion-inducing drugs could soon be reclassified as controlled and dangerous substances in Louisiana under a first-of-its-kind bill that received final legislative passage Thursday and is expected to be signed into law by Republican Gov. Jeff Landry.

Supporters of the reclassification of mifepristone and misoprostol, commonly known as “abortion pills,” say it could protect expectant mothers from coerced abortions, such as a high-profile 2022 case that occurred in neighboring Texas.

Vice President Kamala Harris described it as “absolutely unconscionable.”

Landry welcomed the attack.

“You know you’re doing something right when @KamalaHarris criticizes you,” he posted in reply.

The bill will make it harder for abortionists to prescribe the pills, which some are now turning to as an alternative form of contraception, with roughly two dozen states, including Louisiana, having put at least some abortion restrictions in place since the overturn of Roe v. Wade

Louisiana has a near-total abortion ban in place, which applies both to medical and surgical abortions. The only exceptions to the ban are if there is substantial risk of death or impairment to the mother if she continues the pregnancy or in the case of “medically futile” pregnancies, when the fetus has a fatal abnormality.

Currently, 14 states are enforcing bans on abortion at all stages of pregnancy, with limited exceptions.

As a workaround, activists have begun mailing the pills to states where abortion might otherwise be unavailable due to the closure of Planned Parenthood and other such facilities.

But Louisiana’s push to reclassify mifepristone and misoprostol could possibly open the door for other red states seeking tighter restrictions on the drugs.

Current Louisiana law already requires a prescription for both drugs and makes it a crime, in most cases, to use them to induce an abortion. The bill would make it harder to obtain the pills by placing them on the list of Schedule IV drugs under the state’s Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law.

The classification would require doctors to have a specific license to prescribe the drugs, and the drugs would have to be stored in certain facilities that, in some cases, could end up being located far from rural clinics.

Knowingly possessing the drugs without a valid prescription would carry a punishment including hefty fines and jail time. Language in the bill appears to carve out protections for pregnant women who obtain the drug without a prescription for their own consumption.

The reclassification of the two drugs is contained in an amendment to a bill originating in the Senate that would create the crime of “coerced criminal abortion by means of fraud.” Lawmakers in the Senate unanimously supported the original legislation a month ago.

Later, bill sponsor Sen. Thomas Pressly pushed for the amendment to reclassify the drugs.

Pressly said both the bill and the amendment were motivated by what happened to his sister Catherine Herring of Texas.

In 2022, Herring’s husband slipped her seven misoprostol pills in an effort to induce an abortion without her knowledge or consent.

Although the couple had two children together already, her husband had been caught cheating and wanted a divorce, but he feared filing for one while she was pregnant would make him look bad.

Nonetheless, Herring quickly became suspicious and sought the help of a private investigator, gathering evidence including video recordings of her husband putting the powder into her drinks before going to the police.

There have been several cases similar to Herring’s reported by news outlets over the past 15 years.

While none of the known cases are from Louisiana, the law might prevent countless mothers and their unborn children from unknowingly becoming victims of such drug-induced poisonings.

“The purpose of bringing this legislation is certainly not to prevent these drugs from being used for legitimate health care purposes,” Pressly said. “I am simply trying to put safeguards and guardrails in place to keep bad actors from getting these medications.”

However, critics said any delay to obtaining the drugs could lead to worsening outcomes in a state that has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country.

“This goes too far,” said Democratic Sen. Royce Duplessis, who voted against the measure.

“We have not properly vetted this with the health care community and I believe it’s going to lead to further harm down the road,” he added. “There’s a reason we rank at the bottom in terms of maternal health outcomes, and this is why.”

The Senate voted 29-7, mainly along party lines, to pass the legislation. All five of the female lawmakers in the 39-person Senate voted in favor of the bill.

Passage of the bill comes as both abortion proponents and pro-life advocates await a final decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on an effort to restrict access to mifepristone. However, the justices did not appear ready to limit access to the drug on the day they heard arguments.

In addition to inducing abortions, mifepristone and misoprostol have other common uses, such as treating miscarriages, inducing labor and stopping hemorrhaging.

Mifepristone was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2000 after federal regulators deemed it safe and effective for abortion. It’s used in combination with misoprostol, which the FDA has separately approved to treat stomach ulcers.

The drugs are not classified as controlled substances by the federal government because regulators do not view them as carrying a significant risk of misuse. The federal Controlled Substances Act restricts the use and distribution of prescription medications such as opioids, amphetamines, sleeping aids and other drugs that carry the risk of addiction and overdose.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press


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