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Louisiana governor signs bill to classify abortion pills as controlled substances into law

Louisiana approves bill on abortion pills
Louisiana Legislature approves bill to classify two abortion pills as controlled substances 02:09

Washington — Louisiana became the first state to classify two abortion-inducing medications as controlled substances, making possession of the pills without a prescription a crime. 

Gov. Jeff Landry, a Republican, signed legislation that reclassifies misoprostol and mifepristone — a two-step regimen used to terminate early pregnancies — as Schedule IV drugs into law on Friday after it passed the state legislature earlier this week. 

The measure puts the drugs in the same category as opioids, depressants and other drugs that can be addictive, making them harder to obtain. Misoprostol and mifepristone are not classified as controlled substances by the federal government and can be used separately to treat other conditions. 

Under the law, pregnant women are exempted from prosecution, but other people who possess the pills without a valid prescription face jail time and fines. 

Ellie Schilling, an attorney in Louisiana who specializes in reproductive health law, told reporters that the bill will make it "incredibly difficult" to use the drugs for medically necessary purposes, and would lead to the government monitoring pregnant women and doctors who prescribe the medication. 

In a statement Thursday, President Biden called the legislation "outrageous" and said it's a "direct result of Trump overturning Roe v. Wade." 

"Donald Trump says that women should face some form of 'punishment' for accessing reproductive health care. We're seeing that play out," his statement said. 

The bill's enactment comes as abortion opponents and abortion rights advocates await a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on whether to curtail access to mifepristone. The court appeared poised to allow the drug to remain widely available. 

Last year, more than 60% of abortions within the U.S. healthcare system were done through medication, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights. 

Louisiana already bans both medication and surgical abortions except to save the mother's life or because a pregnancy is "medically futile." 

Kaia Hubbard contributed reporting. 

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