May 13, 2024 - Health

Louisiana bill would place abortion pills on same list as opiates

Packages of Mifepristone tablets are pictured on April 13, 2023. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Louisiana is moving to criminalize possession of two medications used to induce abortion without a prescription, with punishments including prison time.

Why it matters: If approved, Louisiana would become the first state to categorize mifepristone and misoprostol as controlled dangerous substances, a class of drugs that includes medications that can be abused such as narcotics, steroids and depressants.

  • Abortion, both via medication and surgery, is already completely banned in the state with very limited exceptions, per the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights.

The big picture: The move comes weeks before the Supreme Court is set to rule on access to medication abortion in its biggest abortion-related case since overturning Roe v. Wade two years ago.

Zoom in: Louisiana lawmakers added an amendment that would criminalize possessing the pills without a valid prescription or outside a professional medical practice to a related state Senate bill that would make it a crime to give abortion medication to someone without their consent.

Yes, but: It is not a violation for someone to possess mifepristone or misoprostol "for her own consumption," the bill states.

Where it stands: The amendment will be put up for a final vote in the Louisiana House before June 3.

Zoom out: Medication abortion accounted for about two out of three abortions performed in the U.S. last year, the highest figure on record, according to a study by the Guttmacher Institute.

  • Mifepristone is commonly used in tandem with a second Food and Drug Administration-approved drug, misoprostol, for use in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. The pills are increasingly prescribed online and mailed to patients after the FDA eliminated the requirement that they be picked up in person.

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