United States

Battle Against Abortion Ban Severes As Louisiana Senate Reclassifies Abortion Pills As Controlled Substances

Louisiana Senate has reclassified mifepristone and misoprostol, two drugs used in medication abortion, as controlled substances. This move marks a significant step in the ongoing battle over abortion rights and access to medication.

Representative image Photo: X

The Louisiana Senate voted on Thursday to reclassify the two drugs—mifepristone and misoprostol— used in medication abortion as controlled substances. This reclassification of drugs in Louisiana marks another chapter in the intensifying battle over abortion rights and access to medication, with far-reaching implications for individuals and healthcare providers alike.

What are the new restrictions under Louisiana's Law?

The newly passed law designates mifepristone and misoprostol as Schedule IV substances, which means they require greater oversight due to a potential for abuse or dependence. This now makes them equal to drugs like anti-anxiety medications Xanax and Valium.

Possession of these medications without a prescription or outside professional medical practice will be considered a criminal offense, punishable by one to five years in prison and fines up to $5,000.

This new restriction poses another risk for Louisiana residents, who already face a near-total ban on abortion. The law makes it more dangerous to bring these pills from out of state or to order them online without a prescription.

What all are impacted?

While pregnant women are exempt from prosecution, individuals who assist them in obtaining the drugs, such as friends, family, or providers, are not. Moreover, women who are not pregnant but wish to acquire the medications as a precaution will also be affected.

Doctors will need a special license to prescribe these drugs, and their prescriptions will be logged in a state database accessible to law enforcement with a warrant. This will make doctors deter from prescribing the medications and compromise patient privacy. Critics argue that the law will also hinder access to misoprostol for other medical conditions, such as inducing labor, treating miscarriages, and reducing ulcer-related bleeding.

Can this new law be challenged?

The law can be challenged by women, doctors, and the drug manufacturers, who may argue that the law infringes on Louisiana residents' constitutional rights by restricting necessary medical care. Those affected could also argue that the law conflicts with federal policies that make these drugs available. A relevant precedent is a 2014 court ruling that prevented Massachusetts from banning a prescription painkiller, although Louisiana's law does not outright ban the drugs.

Other battles over abortion pills

The fight over abortion pills is also unfolding at the national level. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering a lawsuit filed by anti-abortion medical groups and doctors seeking to restrict mifepristone, including banning its prescription via telemedicine and its distribution by mail.

Meanwhile, Several Democratic-led states have enacted "shield laws" to protect doctors who prescribe abortion pills across state lines to patients in states where abortion is illegal.