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Louisiana Lawmakers Pass Bill Classifying Abortion Pills As Dangerous Substances

FILE - Boxes of the drug mifepristone sit on a shelf at the West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., March 16, 2022. Vermont's Republican governor Phil Scott signed abortion and gender affirming shield bills into law Wednesday, May 10, 2023, that include protecting access to a medication widely used in abortions even if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration withdraws its approval of the pill, mifepristone. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed, File)

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 the governor.

Supporters of the reclassification of mifepristone and misoprostol, commonly known as “abortion pills,” say it would protect expectant mothers from coerced abortions. Numerous doctors, meanwhile, have said it will make it harder for them to prescribe the medicines that they use for other important reproductive health care needs, and could delay treatment.

Louisiana currently has a near-total abortion ban in place, applying both to surgical and medical abortions. The GOP-dominated legislature’s push to reclassify mifepristone and misoprostol could possibly open the door for other Republican states with abortion bans that are seeking tighter restrictions on the drugs.

Current Louisiana law already requires a prescription for both drugs and makes it a crime to use them to induce an abortion in most cases. The bill would make it harder to obtain the pills by placing it 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, which would 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.

Supporters say people would be prevented from unlawfully using the pills, though language in the bill appears to carve out protections for pregnant woman who obtain the drug without a prescription for their own consumption.

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