The Real Reason for Louisiana’s New Mifepristone Law

It
is already against the law to use either mifepristone or misoprostol for an
abortion in Louisiana. Anyone using them for other purposes, such as treating a
miscarriage or inducing labor, was already required to have a prescription. But
when Pressly’s law goes into effect on October 1, possession of an “abortion-inducing
drug” without a prescription
would be a crime. Those possessing such drugs without a prescription could be jailed for up to five years and
fined up to $5,000. Pressly has said the law is not meant to be used to
prosecute someone for taking the drugs themselves, because it defines “possess[ing]
mifepristone or misoprostol for her own consumption”” as exempt from the law.
But in practical terms, policing and surveillance will inevitably involve the
pregnant person self-managing an abortion if you redefine helping them as a
criminal act. There is no exempting people taking abortion pills from being
questioned, searched, or detained in the course of law enforcement
investigating those who allegedly got them pills.

The
new law would also mean that any prescriptions for these
drugs in Louisiana would be logged in the state’s database tracking controlled
substances, with prescription information accessible to law enforcement (with a
warrant) as well as Louisiana’s medical board. “Under this law, doctors will be
tracked in a database every time they write a prescription for mifepristone or
misoprostol,” said WWNO reporter Rosemary Westwood, “and
pharmacists—I mean, in Louisiana, some have already been more hesitant to
dispense these drugs.”

Anti-abortion
groups supporting the law have used it to spread misinformation about the
safety and efficacy of medication abortion, which in turn will increase fear
and stigma. The anti-abortion group Louisiana Right to Life produced a “factsheet” on the bill that claims,  “By letting abortion pills be sent through the
mail without an in-person doctor’s appointment, they have set the stage for the
dangerous abuse of these drugs.” (The same rhetoric has been used by groups who have brought a
challenge to the FDA’s current regulation of mifepristone to the Supreme
Court.) Citing the story of Pressly’s sister, the group then claims that the
goal of the law, in part, is “to stop these pills from getting into the hands
of predators and minors.”