Louisiana falls into dystopia with landmark abortion pill law | Arwa Mahdawi

Something is rotten in the state of Louisiana

Louisiana is not a great place to get pregnant. If you need an abortion, this means an almost total ban it is almost impossible to get one, even in cases of rape or incest – anyone who performs an abortion that is considered illegal can go to jail for 15 years. And if you’re planning to have a child, you’re dealing with some of the highest maternal mortality rates in the U.S. Although, as Senator Bill Cassidy says helpfully noted, “If you adjust our population by race, we are not as big an outlier as it might otherwise seem.” In other words, if you ignore the black population (a third of his voters), things look a little better. So that’s okay then!

This week, Louisiana decided to descend further into dystopia and passed a law making abortion pills a controlled substance. Senate Bill 276 makes possession of the abortion pills mifepristone and misoprostol without a prescription punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Republicans excel at using it secretly tactics to undermine our rights, and this bill is no exception. When it was originally brought up, you see, the bill did not include the amendment that converts abortion pills to Schedule IV drugs — a classification normally given to dangerous or addictive substances. The bill was previously positioned as a way to protect pregnant people by making it a crime to intentionally give an abortion-inducing drug to a pregnant woman without her consent. Everyone can get behind that idea, right?

There was also an emotional story behind the legislation that made it easy to sell. Senator Thomas Pressly, the bill’s author, explained that his sister, Catherine Herring, had been prescribed the abortion pill by her soon-to-be ex-husband. Several media outlets have said that Haring subsequently managed to save the baby through a “process for reversing medical abortion”. For example, KTBS, a Louisiana media company, reported that Herring was “on a pill reversal program and her baby is still alive.”

I’m sorry… what? I’m not a doctor, but this story sounds medically unlikely. Sara Pentlicky, who is a doctor (a gynecologist) and an abortion provider told me pretty much the same thing.

“If (Herring) took abortion pills and was still pregnant with a baby, the only explanation is that the pills didn’t work, which is a possibility,” Pentlicky said as I ran the scenario past her. However, there are she notes, organizations that “prescribe progesterone to people who have taken abortion pills with the false information that this can reverse the abortion with medication.” The New York Attorney General is currently taking tough action against these organizations, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said the procedures are “unproven and unethical.” They are also dangerous: a recent research into the effects of progesterone on people who had taken mifepristone was stopped after “the third bleeding”.

To be clear, I’m not saying Pressly is lying about what his sister, Herring’s husband, went through pleaded guilty for injuring a child and assaulting a pregnant person and was sentenced to six months in prison. But it feels rather like Pressly deployed elements of his sister’s story to position a regressive law as a way to women. At least that’s how it’s being defended following a backlash against the law. On Friday, for example, Landry tweeted that safety was the motivation behind the bill. “Proud to stand with our legislature to ensure this drug can be obtained legally and safely – ensuring the protection of all women. Without this bill, women and the unborn would be more vulnerable to predators,” Landry said.

Let’s be very clear about this: this is not about protecting women at all. Rather, the point is to make abortion pills in Louisiana even harder to obtain than they already are. More than 200 doctors in Louisiana have done so signed a letter to lawmakers warning that reclassification could create a “barrier to physicians’ ability to prescribe appropriate treatment” and cause unnecessary fear and confusion among patients and physicians. Of course, that’s exactly what anti-abortion activists want.

Perhaps the most depressing aspect of all this is that it’s almost certain that Louisiana has just set a dangerous new trend. As Pentlicky notes, “Every time a state succeeds in passing any form of abortion restriction, we see other states follow suit—it just becomes more and more egregious.”

In short, expect Louisiana’s crackdown on abortion pills to reach a red reading in your area soon.

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