Louisiana becomes first state to criminalize abortion pills without prescription

May 25, 2024

Louisiana became the first state to criminalize abortion pills without a valid prescription Friday, when the state’s Republican governor signed a controversial bill declaring two abortion medications as controlled substances.

The legislation makes it illegal for mifepristone and misoprostol, two drugs used to induce a medicated abortion, to be obtained without a prescription.

Gov. Jeff Landry called signing the bill into law “common sense” in a Friday post on social media platform X.

Requiring an abortion inducing drug to be obtained with a prescription and criminalizing the use of an abortion drug on an unsuspecting mother is nothing short of common sense,” Landry wrote. “This bill protects women across Louisiana and I was proud to sign this bill into law today.

The unprecedented move makes Louisiana the first state to designate abortion drugs as controlled substances, adding them to Louisiana’s Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law. The legislation, set to go into effect on Oct. 1, stipulates that the two abortion drugs can only be legally obtained in the state through physicians with a special license.

Those who posses the drugs without a prescription are now subject to up to five years in prison, however, some protections exist under the law for pregnant women who have the drugs in their possession for their own use, notes the The Associated Press.

Prescriptions were previously required for mifepristone and misoprostol in Louisiana, however possession of the drugs without prescriptions wasn’t criminalized. The Louisiana House voted earlier this week to change that, with 64 yeas and 29 nays. The state’s upper chamber also voted to advance the legislation by a 29-7 vote Thursday.

Vice President Harris previously slammed the legislation, calling it “absolutely unconscionable” after it passed its first hurdle in the state.

“The Louisiana House just passed a bill that would criminalize the possession of medication abortion, with penalties of up to several years of jail time,” she wrote in a post on X. “Let’s be clear: Donald Trump did this.”

Several states have enacted stricter laws regarding abortions since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade in 2022, including Arizona, where officials enacted a near-total abortion ban that was repealed shortly after its passage.