Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Pressly’s ‘abortion fraud’ bill heads to governor’s desk

by BIZ Magazine

By Elizabeth White | LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE–The Louisiana Senate Thursday approved a bill that would classify abortion pills as dangerous controlled substances, sending it to Gov. Jeff Landry’s desk for his signature. 

Sen. Thomas Pressly of Shreveport

The Senate voted 29-7 to concur with a controversial House amendment on the bill, Senate Bill 276, despite pushback from some lawmakers, healthcare workers and women’s advocates.  

Sen. Thomas Pressly, R-Shreveport, said his goal in writing the legislation was to protect women from abortions coerced by fraud. He said his sister, Catherine Pressly Herring, was slipped abortion-inducing drugs by her ex-husband without her consent. 

Pressly’s original version of the bill, which created penalties such as prison sentences and monetary fines for abortion coerced by fraud, passed the Senate with bipartisan support.

However, when the bill returned to the Senate, it received pushback due to an amendment added by the House that would reclassify the drugs–mifepristone and misoprostol– s Schedule IV drugs under the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law. 

Landry’s signature on the bill would make Louisiana the first state to classify the drugs as controlled substances. It also would make possession of them without a prescription a crime punishable with jail time.

“Mischaracterizing misoprostol, a drug routinely and safely used on labor units throughout the state, as a dangerous drug of abuse creates confusion, misinformation and harms women seeking high-quality maternal care,” Sen. Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans, said.

Physicians and healthcare providers have said reclassifying the drugs would make it harder for them to prescribe them and could delay treatment, especially in rural areas. Since the drugs are also used for reproductive health care needs, not just abortion, providers say delays could cause more issues for the mother and the child. 

Supporters of the amended bill disagreed, saying that it would not change how the drugs are prescribed and that they would still be available to anyone with legitimate health care reasons. 

“Louisiana has been very clear: We do not prosecute women when they are seeking an abortion, but we’re also very clear that abortion is not legal in Louisiana, and this bill does not change that,” Pressly said. “What we’re simply doing is stating that we should be protecting women like my sister from harmful bad actors that are trying to kill an unborn child and harm the woman.” 

Some lawmakers also raised concerns that providers would need a special license to prescribe a Schedule IV drug. Pressly said that most health care providers already have the license, but others have disagreed with him, saying most gynecologists do not have it.  

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