Louisiana Classifies Two Abortion Drugs as Controlled Dangerous Substances

Obtaining them without a prescription could result in fines and jail time.

Abortion rights activists hold signs at a protest outside of the Supreme Court in March.Jose Luis Magana/AP

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Louisiana enacted a first-of-its-kind law on Friday, classifying the two drugs used in medication abortions as controlled and dangerous substances. The law prohibits obtaining or possessing misoprostol and mifipristone without a prescription. The new classification will make obtaining a prescription more difficult.

Louisiana already bans abortion with few exceptions. The reclassification of the so-called abortion pills was first introduced as part of an effort to thwart coerced abortions. But this is a stand of anti-abortion misinformation that, as Mother Jones’ Julianne McShane has detailed, is not supported by the facts. Further, a coerced abortion would already be illegal in Louisiana.

Instead of protecting women, the new law is likely to worsen care. Misoprostol has other important uses outside of abortion care, including for treating miscarriages, ulcers, and inducing labor. “Unfortunately, I think the biggest impact of this law will be on miscarriage care,” Greer Donley, an expert on abortion law at the University of Pittsburgh, posted on X. “Docs aren’t prescribing these meds in LA for abortion b/c of bans, and patients are exempt from prosecution. Docs ARE prescribing miso for miscarriage, and this law will likely chill that care.”

The law will make it harder to prescribe these drugs by requiring doctors to have a special license, and they must now be stored in special facilities that might make them harder for people to obtain, especially in rural areas.

Louisiana’s abortion ban has already degraded medical care for pregnant people in a state with an already high maternal mortality rate. In March, a report from Lift Louisiana, a reproductive rights organization, detailed the ways in which care for pregnant people had veered dangerously from standard medical practice as a result of the state’s abortion ban. According to the report, doctors are delaying prenatal appointments, a threat to women and the fetus, as well as treatment for ectopic pregnancies, which are life-threatening. The report also detailed how women who require abortion care are instead receiving C-sections, forcing major abdominal surgery on women in order to avoid the appearance of abortion.

Reproductive rights advocates fear that other GOP-controlled states will copy the legislation.

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