Updated Jun 21, 2022 - Health

Louisiana governor signs into law bill to make mailing abortion pills a crime

Picture of a person holding a sign that says "keep abortion safe and legal"
Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) on Tuesday signed into law a bill that will prohibit pregnant people from getting abortion pills via mail.

Driving the news: The bill makes "delivering, dispensing, distributing, or providing" an "abortion-inducing drug" to a pregnant person a crime, and requires patients to take the medication in person, despite federal guidance that says that it is safe to access the pills via telemedicine.

Details: Besides making the mail of abortion pills illegal, the bill says that if a person who is not a licensed provider "knowingly performs" a medication abortion, they can be subject to a fine of up to $50,000 and a maximum five-year imprisonment.

  • If a medication abortion results in "the death or serious bodily injury" of the pregnant person, whoever mailed the pills can face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $75,000. If that pregnant person is a minor, the penalty increases to up to 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
  • Any person who mails an abortion pill shall face a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment of up to six months.
  • The bill explicitly says that it will not outlaw the use of contraceptive methods, Plan B and other types of emergency contraception.
  • The pregnant person cannot be punished under this bill.
  • The bill takes effect on Aug. 1.

Context: In Louisiana, pregnant people were already required to take abortion pills in a doctor's office or a clinic, but it was not a criminal act.

  • This new bill now explicitly includes mailing or providing abortion pills into its definition of "criminal abortion."

Don't forget: Louisiana is one of the 13 states that have "trigger" laws banning abortion that would kick in right away if the Supreme Court completely overturns its precedents protecting access in the U.S. — which it might be ready to do.

  • Edwards on Tuesday also signed into law a bill to strengthen the state's "trigger" law, making providing an abortion punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 in the absence of Roe.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details throughout.

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