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Louisiana governor signs law making abortion drugs controlled substances

Bottles of the drug misoprostol Associated Press/Photo by Allen G. Breed, file

Louisiana governor signs law making abortion drugs controlled substances

Gov. Jeff Landry signed the bill into law late Friday afternoon. The law is scheduled to go into effect at the beginning of October.  It criminalizes the induction of an abortion without the mother’s consent or knowledge and reclassifies the abortion drugs mifepristone and misoprostol as Schedule IV controlled substances. The reclassification would make it illegal to possess the drugs without a valid prescription. Abortion is already illegal in the state, with exceptions for cases in which the life of the mother is at stake.  

What would be the consequences of disobeying the law? The penalty for possessing the drugs would be a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years in prison, as well as a maximum fine of $5,000.

Does the law make any exemptions? The bill says it will not be illegal, under that provision of the bill, for a pregnant woman to possess the drugs and consume them herself.

What’s the background on this bill? State Sen. Thomas Pressly originally introduced the bill to criminalize coerced abortion through fraud. Pressly’s sister Catherine Herring testified to a senate committee in April that her husband had slipped misoprostol into her drink while she was pregnant.

The bill originated in the Louisiana Senate and then went to the state’s House of Representatives, where lawmakers added amendments that explicitly classified the abortion drugs as controlled substances. The state Senate passed the amended legislation by a 29-7 vote on Thursday.

What are the current laws protecting unborn babies in Louisiana? State law currently protects all unborn babies from abortion except in cases where the life of the mother is at risk. Even then, doctors are required to make a reasonable effort to save both the life of the mother and the life of the unborn child. That law explicitly illegalizes both inducing abortions through the use of drugs and through the use of physical instruments. Louisiana law does clarify that women who abort their unborn babies will not face prosecution. However, abortionists who assist them face fines and prison time, according to the parameters of another state law.

Dig deeper: Read Leah Savas’ report in Vitals about Catherine Herring’s story.

Josh Schumacher

Josh is a breaking news reporter for WORLD. He’s a graduate of World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College.

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