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In an unconscionably dumb act of political theater, the Louisiana state legislature has voted to pass a ludicrous and deeply unscientific bill that criminalizes abortion pills by classifying them as "controlled dangerous substances."

Louisana moved quickly to illegalize abortion in the days after Roe vs. Wade was overturned. Currently, neither medical nor surgical abortions are legal in the state. Criminalizing the possession of abortion pills under the Controlled Substance Act, though, is a deeply troubling turn in the US' ongoing abortion rights battle — and where one abortion-restrictive state goes, others may well follow.

The bill targets mifepristone and misoprostol, drugs that when taken together induce abortion. The pills are extremely safe; a December analysis from CNN, based on data from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), shows that mifepristone, which was approved by the FDA in 2000, has an astonishingly low associated death rate of 0.0005 percent when used as directed. Per CNN, that's lower than the respective death rates associated with penicillin and Viagra, two common drugs that are publicly and scientifically understood to be safe.

Mifepristone "has been used for over 20 years by over five million people with the capacity to become pregnant," Ushma Upadhyay, an associate professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at the University of California, San Francisco, told CNN at the time. "Its safety is very well established."

All to say, there's no scientific evidence to merit the criminalization of abortion pills on safety grounds. In post-Roe America, however, anti-abortion activists have systematically attempted to dismantle access to mifepristone and misoprostol abortion treatments, largely based on "research" that's been redacted.

In other words, this bill is so, so, stupid. We want to say it's too stupid for words, but it's unfortunately too serious not to write about.

According to The Washington Post, the bill was originally drafted to outlaw instances where a person gives abortion pills to a pregnant woman without her consent — an obviously horrible and dangerous thing that should be illegal! But that perfectly reasonable and highly specific original bill was later amended to include the criminal reclassification of the pills themselves, a drastic and nonsensical measure that, per WaPo, some lawmakers didn't see coming.

"Everyone was blindsided," Louisana representative Mandie Landry, one of the bill's few dissenters, told WaPo.

Now, under the bill, abortion pills become a Schedule IV substance alongside highly addictive opioids and depressants. (Mifepristone and misoprostol, needless to say, have zero risk of dependency.) Further, transporting and providing abortion pills without a prescription will be considered criminal racketeering; possession of the pills without a valid prescription could carry hefty fines and even significant jail time. Pregnant women themselves are exempt from prosecution, but these new restrictions will likely make it harder for them to get abortion pills at all, especially in a state that already has a near-total ban placed on medical and surgical abortions.

Criminalizing mifepristone doesn't just impact women who want to end a pregnancy; it's also the safest means of post-miscarriage care. And elsewhere, it's FDA-approved to treat Cushing's system, a rare hormonal disorder that can cause diminished fertility and a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes when untreated, among other symptoms. There's technically an exemption for prescription holders, but as WaPo notes, criminalizing the medicine in an already-fraught atmosphere for pharmacists and physicians will likely just further confuse access for everyone, even those who aren't  seeking to terminate a pregnancy.

But despite pushback from the Louisiana Society of Addiction Medicine and a letter cosigned by over 240 of the state's OB/GYN physicians begging the legislature to reconsider, according to WaPo, the bill passed.

"I understand that it may give some in this body some heartburn," State Senator Thomas Pressly, the bill's main author, dismissively told fellow lawmakers on Thursday, according to The New York Times. "But I truly believe this is the right step for making sure that the criminal action on the front end is stopped."

The law is expected to be signed by current Louisiana governor Jeff Landry, a Big Oil-cozied climate change denier and book-banning hopeful who, during his previous tenure as the state's Attorney General, was sued over allegations that his office protected a politically connected pedophile and once inexplicably sued reporters for their requesting of public-record documents that delineated a sexual harassment claim against one of Landry's top aides.

One of Landry's recent endeavors as governor is a crusade to put the Ten Commandments in Louisiana public schools, because — as a trained lawyer who has presumably read the American Constitution — he seemingly forgot the part of our founding document about the separation of church and state. Just, you know, if you needed a vibe check on the Louisiana government's leader.

Without scientific evidence, criminalizing abortion pills is simply a criminalization of abortion — it's the drawing of ideological and political boundaries, not scientific or evidence-based ones. Pretending otherwise is misleading, and rest assured the consequences will be bigger than a case of "heartburn."

"The pills have not changed," Mandie Landry, the representative, told WaPo. "The politics have changed."

More on abortion pills: CVS and Walgreens to Begin Selling Abortion Pills

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