Louisiana bill would classify abortion drugs as controlled dangerous substances

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

A Louisiana bill would classify the abortion-inducing drugs misoprostol and mifepristone as Schedule IV controlled dangerous substances in the state, placing them in the same category as highly regulated drugs such as narcotics and depressants.The amendment that would classify the drugs as Schedule IV substances was added to a Senate bill that would make it a crime to give abortion medication to a person without their consent.Related video above: Doctor explains how medical abortion drug mifepristone worksThe bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Thomas Pressly, said he proposed the legislation after his sister was given misoprostol against her will.Abortion is already banned in Louisiana with no exceptions for rape or incest.The bill sparked outcry from a group of nearly 270 Louisiana physicians, health care providers and medical students, who signed a letter to Pressly expressing concerns over the reclassification.The letter, obtained by CNN, says in part, “neither mifepristone nor misoprostol have been shown to have any potential for abuse, dependence, public health risk, nor high rates of adverse side effects.”The letter continues that placing the drugs under 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 rebutted the letter’s claims in a response he shared with CNN: “If enacted, this legislation would not prohibit misoprostol or even mifepristone from being prescribed or dispensed for legitimate reasons.””The doctors I have consulted with feel this provision will not harm healthcare for women,” he continued.In a medication abortion, mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone, which is needed for a pregnancy to continue. A second drug, misoprostol, is taken within the next 24 to 48 hours. Misoprostol causes the uterus to contract, creating cramping and bleeding. Approved for use in other conditions, such as preventing stomach ulcers, the drug has been available at pharmacies for decades.The amended bill would make it a felony – punishable with 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 their own consumption. Doctors in the state would still be able to prescribe the drugs.In Louisiana, the 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.Lawmakers have until June 3 to give the legislation final approval before sending it to Republican Gov. Jeff Landry for his signature.

A Louisiana bill would classify the abortion-inducing drugs misoprostol and mifepristone as Schedule IV controlled dangerous substances in the state, placing them in the same category as highly regulated drugs such as narcotics and depressants.

The amendment that would classify the drugs as Schedule IV substances was added to a Senate bill that would make it a crime to give abortion medication to a person without their consent.

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Related video above: Doctor explains how medical abortion drug mifepristone works

The bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Thomas Pressly, said he proposed the legislation after his sister was given misoprostol against her will.

Abortion is already banned in Louisiana with no exceptions for rape or incest.

The bill sparked outcry from a group of nearly 270 Louisiana physicians, health care providers and medical students, who signed a letter to Pressly expressing concerns over the reclassification.

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

The letter continues that placing the drugs under 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 rebutted the letter’s claims in a response he shared with CNN: “If enacted, this legislation would not prohibit misoprostol or even mifepristone from being prescribed or dispensed for legitimate reasons.”

“The doctors I have consulted with feel this provision will not harm healthcare for women,” he continued.

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

The amended bill would make it a felony – punishable with 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 their own consumption. Doctors in the state would still be able to prescribe the drugs.

In Louisiana, the 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.

Lawmakers have until June 3 to give the legislation final approval before sending it to Republican Gov. Jeff Landry for his signature.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.

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