NewsLouisiana one step further to make abortion pills 'controlled dangerous substances'

Louisiana one step further to make abortion pills 'controlled dangerous substances'

Mifepristone and Misoprostol pills are pictured Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, in Skokie, Illinois. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Mifepristone and Misoprostol pills are pictured Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, in Skokie, Illinois. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Images source: © GETTY | New York Daily News

7:31 AM EDT, May 16, 2024, updated: 8:36 AM EDT, May 19, 2024

Louisiana takes another step to ban the two of the most popular abortion pills, being the first state to ban them in general. People who are caught with them and have no authorization may be sentenced to prison.

Louisiana is on its way to introducing two of the most popular abortion pills - misoprostol and mifepristone - to the list of controlled dangerous substances. After passing the bill with amendment, people who possess the drugs without valid prescription or outside of professional practice may be sentenced to prison.

Because of this record, the person who has one of these drugs for "own consumption" will not be sentenced, but the person helping to obtain the medicine will be unless this person is a doctor. Legislators in Baton Rouge extended the bill by amendment of penalizing giving a pregnant person pills nonconsensually. In Louisiana, people who possess Schedule IV drugs can be sentenced to up to five years in prison, whereas people who produce or distribute the medicine may be incarcerated for up to ten years. Moreover, the prosecuted people can be charged with a thousand dollars fine.

The amendment would list the two mentioned pills under the state's Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law. The list itself "places all substances which were in some manner regulated under existing federal law into one of five schedules." The list takes into consideration factors such as medical use, potential for abuse, safety, and dependence liability. Around 250 Louisiana doctors have vehemently opposed the amendment, claiming adding the substances on the list is not "scientifically based."

The letter to Republican Senator Pressly

The doctors sent a letter to Republican Senator Pressly, who sponsors the bill, last week. The letter states, "Adding a safe, medically indicated drug for miscarriage management … creates the false perception that these are dangerous drugs that require additional regulation." It is worth noting that both of these medicines have other medical uses, such as preventing gastrointestinal ulcers.

Given its historically poor maternal health outcomes, Louisiana should prioritize safe and evidence-based care for pregnant women.

Doctor's letter to Senator Pressly

Senator responded vaguely in a statement released by his office that he was trying to "control the rampant illegal distribution of abortion-inducing drugs," claiming that abortion is "frequently abused and is a risk to the health of citizens." According to his belief, voting for the amendment "will assist law enforcement in protecting vulnerable women and unborn babies."

However, his bias is in part personal since his sister testified that her husband gave her an abortion drug in 2022. As a result, he was sentenced to jail for 180 days, but after introducing the new bill, he would have been sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $75,000 fine. As the doctors agree that the case is troubling, they focus on the use of the pills as a treatment after miscarriage, helping to stop, i.e., postpartum hemorrhage.

Abortion in Louisiana

Louisiana is already a state with one of the most strict abortion laws in the US. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, every year, around 10,000 people in Louisiana obtain abortions. Interestingly, the safety level of the performed abortion is one of the highest in the country, whereas the level of health of women and children is one of the lowest in the United States.

Abortion access in Louisiana is highly restricted and challenging since there are only three clinics per state, with one of the lowest ratio providers in the country - one clinic per 363,228 women aged 15 to 49. Many clinics shut down after the restrictions were passed on the providers. Louisiana takes the lead in the number of rules and regulations put in place for providers.

Moreover, the studies have shown that the most targeted with current and proposed regulations are poor people, rural people, and non-white people. However, medical regulations harm all patients in the state. Since only a few people have insurance covering abortion, poor people in Louisiana have to choose between getting an abortion and paying for necessities.

It has proved challenging to estimate how many people get abortions yearly. The data oscillate between 600,00 and 900,000 in the United States. Interestingly, a study found that after overturning Roe v. Wade, about 26,000 more Americans have used pills to process abortion at home compared to the estimated data if Roe v. Wade had not been overturned. Over half of the abortions in the United States involve pills, making surgical abortions the less popular choice.

Abortion in almost all circumstances is banned in 14 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina introduced a gestational limit of 6 weeks, Nebraska and North Carolina - 12 weeks, Arizona bans abortion after 15 weeks, and Utah after 18 weeks. In Iowa, Montana, and Wyoming, despite enacting bans and restrictions, abortion remains legal for now as the court has yet to decide if these laws are rightful.

Sources: Washington Post, The Guardian, Center for Reproductive Rights, New York Times

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