Louisiana Gov. Signs Bill to Classify Key Pregnancy Care Pills as Controlled Dangerous Substances

Louisiana GOP Governor Jeff Landry has signed a bill to reclassify drugs used in abortion as Schedule IV controlled dangerous substances, placing the pills in the same category as Xanax and Valium.

The first-of-its kind law makes it a crime to possess misoprostol and mifepristone without a prescription, and was signed by the governor a day after it gained final legislative passage in the state Senate.

Hundreds of physicians in Louisiana protested the bill, citing fears that the law will interfere with patient care given how commonly misoprostol is used to save lives in pregnancy care. “Placing mifepristone and misoprostol on the controlled substances list is harmful and malicious,” State Rep. Mandie Landry said prior to the the governor’s signature. “It is purely the product of Louisiana Right to Life and their politics. Doctors and common sense are all against it.”

While the bill contains an exception for pregnant women who are found in possession of the medications, anyone else without a prescription can be sentenced to felonies, punishable with up to 10 years in jail.

Following the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022, when the Supreme Court ruled that states can restrict or outright ban abortion at any point during a pregnancy, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed legislation banning almost all abortions in Louisiana since August 2022. The law does not include exceptions for rape or incest, and has narrow exceptions for life of the pregnant person and “medically futile” pregnancies.

OB-GYNs in the state argue that since abortion is illegal, they do not use the pills for this purpose and rarely use mifepristone at all. They emphasize that misoprostol is used daily for miscarriage care, to induce labor, to stop postpartum hemorrhaging, and to prepare the cervix for medical procedures. Health care workers have expressed concern that the reclassification will be harmful to their patients and potentially delay care in life-or-death situations.

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