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Local Legislators making Louisiana law history

by Stacey Tinsley

On Friday, May 24, 2024, Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry signed SB 276 into law. District 38 Republican State Senator Thomas Pressly of Shreveport was inspired to sponsor this legislation after his sister was unknowingly poisoned by her former husband with the abortion-inducing drug Misoprostol while she was pregnant.

“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. This bill protects women across Louisiana, and I was proud to sign this bill into law today,” said Governor Landry.

This bill requires Misoprostol to be obtained through a prescription, ensuring the safety of women and the unborn.

It also creates the crime of coerced criminal abortion by means of fraud to prohibit a third party from knowingly using an abortion-inducing drug to cause, or attempt to cause, an abortion on an unsuspecting pregnant mother without her knowledge or consent.

Anyone without a prescription for Mifepristone and Misoprostol could face up to 10 years in prison and $75,000 in fines.

Supporters of the bill said it will protect pregnant people from coerced abortions, while opponents argue that the two drugs, Mifepristone and Misoprostol, have many other uses aside from abortion, and that reclassifying them as controlled substances would make it more difficult for patients to access the drugs when needed.

Several Louisiana doctors and reproductive rights advocates say they were concerned not by the initial bill, but by its amendment, which was added late in the legislative process. The amendment labels Mifepristone and Misoprostol as Schedule IV drugs under Louisiana’s Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law. Schedule IV drugs are considered to have potential for abuse or dependence and include Valium and Xanax.

One bill that is still awaiting Governor Landry’s signature is HB 71. This bill was authored by District 9 Republican State Representative Dodie Horton of Haughton. HB 71 was co-authored by District 36 Republican State Senator Adam Bass of Bossier City. This bill would require schools to post the Ten Commandments in each public school classroom across the state of Louisiana.

“I am proud that this legislation has passed through both chambers of the Louisiana State Legislature. Some have argued that this legislation is targeted to Christians only. The truth is the Ten Commandments are a historically significant document that all can glean wisdom from and can be found in over 180 different places, including the Supreme Court of the United States of America. The Ten Commandments have a valuable historical reference in our history that pertains to how our country was founded, including the laws on which our country was founded,” said Senator Bass in a Facebook post.

Last year, Representative Horton successfully shepherded a bill requiring the official motto of the United States of America, “In God We Trust,” to be displayed in public school classrooms across the state of Louisiana.

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