Louisiana House Passes Bill That Would Classify Abortion Medications as Controlled and Dangerous Substances



cnn

The Louisiana state House on Tuesday passed an amended bill that would classify the abortion drugs misoprostol and mifeprostone as Schedule IV controlled dangerous substances in the state, placing them in the same category as highly regulated medications such as narcotics and depressants.

The final House vote was 64-29, and the bill now returns to the Senate for approval.

Senate Bill 276 would make it a crime to give abortion medications to a person without their consent. The amendment that would classify drugs as Schedule IV substances was added after its passage in the Senate.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Thomas Pressly, said he proposed the legislation after his sister was administered misoprostol against her will. Abortion is already prohibited in Louisiana with no exceptions for rape or incest.

In a medical abortion, mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone, which is necessary for the pregnancy to continue. A second medication, misoprostol, is taken within the next 24 to 48 hours. Misoprostol causes the uterus to contract, causing cramping and bleeding. Approved for use in other conditions, such as preventing stomach ulcers, the drug has been available in pharmacies for decades.

The amended bill would make it a felony — punishable by up to five years in prison and fines of up to $5,000 — for anyone found in possession of the drugs without a valid prescription.

The legislation includes an exemption for pregnant women in possession of mifepristone and misoprostol for personal use. State doctors could still prescribe the drugs.

In Louisiana, distribution or possession with intent to distribute Schedule IV drugs carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $15,000.

CNN previously reported that the bill sparked an outcry from a group of nearly 270 Louisiana doctors, health care providers and medical students, who signed a letter to Pressly expressing concern about the reclassification.

The letter, obtained by CNN, says in part that “neither mifepristone nor misoprostol have been shown to have potential for abuse, dependence, public health risk, or high rates of adverse side effects.”

The letter goes on to say that including the drugs in Schedule IV would create “the false perception that these are dangerous drugs that require additional regulation” and that “they are widely prescribed and taken safely.”

Pressly refuted the letter’s claims in a response she shared with CNN last week: “If enacted, this legislation would not prohibit the prescribing or dispensing of misoprostol or even mifepristone for legitimate reasons.”

“Physicians I have consulted with believe that this provision will not harm women’s health care,” she continued.

If the state Senate accepts the amended bill passed by the House, it will next go to Republican Gov. Jeff Landry’s desk. If Landry signed the bill into law, Louisiana would become the only state to classify drugs as controlled dangerous substances.