Louisiana lawmakers vote to make abortion pills controlled substances

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State abortion laws have created confusion, particularly in 2022, when a woman was denied an abortion because her fetus’s fatal condition was not clearly listed as a medical exception, and doctors were afraid of running afoul of the laws.

Many patients living in Louisiana or other states with bans have traveled to obtain abortions in states where abortion remains legal, or have received prescriptions and pills from doctors and nurses in other states under shield laws. These ways of obtaining an abortion are unlikely to be affected by the new bill.

David S. Cohen, a law professor at Drexel University, said a relatively small number of people could be subject to sanctions under the bill, including members of informal networks of volunteers who provide pills without a prescription to some communities and women who are not pregnant but who order the abortion pill just in case.

“It might make some people think twice, and it might expose some people to criminal prosecution who are not exposed right now,” he said. But, she added, “this will not stop people in Louisiana from obtaining and using the abortion pill.”

Mr. Pressly, a Shreveport Republican, said he sponsored the bill after his sister, Catherine Pressly Herring, discovered that her husband had laced the water she drank with misoprostol in an illicit effort to stop her pregnancy. (He pleaded guilty to two criminal charges. The pregnancy continued and the baby was born prematurely.)

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