Republican-led states are trying to crack down on abortion medication

A recent law in Louisiana highlights the effort to block access to mifepristone even as the Supreme Court considers a case that could restrict its use.

By Amanda Becker, Shefali Luthra
May 31, 2024

The Supreme Court is set to rule soon on how the abortion drug mifepristone can be used and prescribed, but conservative states — most recently Arkansas and Louisiana — haven’t waited to take their own steps to attempt to undercut access to the medication.

States have been able to ban or restrict abortion, including via medication, since the Supreme Court ended the federal right to abortion in June 2022. Yet the number of abortions has risen since Roe v. Wade was overturned — a development health researchers attribute in part to a growing share of pregnant patients seeking medication abortions through telemedicine, including those in states with bans.


Louisiana’s move to criminalize abortion pills is cruel and medically senseless

Louisiana, with one of the US’s worst maternal mortality rates, wants to make abortion medication a ‘controlled substance’

Moira Donegan
Wed 29 May 2024

This week, Louisiana moved to expand the criminalization of abortion further than any state has since before Roe v Wade was decided. On Thursday, the state legislature passed a bill that would reclassify mifepristone and misoprostol – the two drugs used in a majority of American abortions – as dangerous controlled substances.

Under both state and federal classifications, the category of controlled substances includes those medications known to cause mind-altering effects and create the potential for addictions, such as sedatives and opioids; abortion medications carry none of this potential for physical dependence, habit-forming or abuse. The move from Louisiana lawmakers runs counter to both established medical opinion and federal law.


Standard pregnancy care is now dangerously disrupted in Louisiana, report reveals

MARCH 19, 2024
By Rosemary Westwood
4-Minute Listen with transcript

In the wake of Louisiana's abortion ban, pregnant women have been given risky, unnecessary surgeries, denied swift treatment for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies, and forced to wait until their life is at risk before getting an abortion, according to a new report first made available to NPR.

It found doctors are using extreme caution to avoid even the appearance of providing an abortion procedure.


What It’s Like to Be Denied an Abortion in Your State

By Nancy Davis

When Nancy Davis was denied an abortion for a nonviable fetus in her home state of Louisiana in 2022, she took her story to media outlets in an attempt to draw attention to what she sees as a fundamental injustice that disproportionately affects Black women like her. Davis, the mother of an 18-year-old, a 14-year-old, and a 2-year-old, is now an outspoken advocate for reproductive justice. She formed the Nancy Davis Foundation to help other women in similar situations. As part of that work, she has organized the upcoming Voices For Change March on Baton Rouge, which falls on Jan. 21, a day before the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Davis told us about the trauma of being denied critical healthcare, what it was like to travel out of state to obtain her abortion, and why she continues to use her voice for others. Read it all, in her own words, below.


Abortion-ban states pour millions into pregnancy centers with little medical care

Louisiana offers up to $5 million in tax credits a year for donations to anti-abortion operations

AUGUST 24, 2023

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, Louisiana Republican state Sen. Beth Mizell looked for a way to address her state’s abysmal record on infant and maternal mortality, preterm births and low birth weight. Louisiana has one of the nation’s strictest abortion bans, with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Mizell and her colleagues borrowed an idea from neighboring Mississippi: a state tax credit program that sends millions each year to nonprofit pregnancy resource centers, also called crisis pregnancy centers. They’re private anti-abortion organizations, often religiously affiliated, that typically offer free pregnancy tests, parenting classes and baby supplies. They are not usually staffed by doctors or nurses, though some offer limited ultrasounds or testing for sexually transmitted infections.


A 45-year-old got pregnant in a state with a ban on abortions. She flew across the country to get one

By Christina Zdanowicz, CNN
Sun July 9, 2023

When 45-year-old Victoria realized she was five weeks late and the lines showed as positive on two pregnancy tests, the New Orleans resident dreamed up a plan to get an abortion.

Traveling out of state was the only abortion option for Victoria, who asked CNN to withhold her last name out of fear of backlash against her and her family. Louisiana is one of several states that have essentially banned all abortions.


‘It’s Breaking My Heart’: Abortion Providers on Life After Roe

For many abortion providers, working in a clinic isn’t just a job—it’s a calling. But clinics are businesses, too, and in the 15 states that have banned almost all abortions, business has been turbulent.

Carter Sherman, VICE
June 28, 2023

Kathaleen Pittman was too angry to retire.

Pittman had worked at Hope Medical Group, one of the last abortion clinics in Louisiana, for thirty years. She’d started there as a part-time counselor in 1992; by 2022, she was running the place. She’d gone to the Supreme Court to defend her clinic and won, successfully striking down a Louisiana abortion restriction in 2020.

Two years after that victory, she watched as the Supreme Court dismantled her life’s work by overturning Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022. She went back to court to try and fend off Louisiana’s cascade of abortion bans, but a month after the overturning, the clinic had to close. Louisiana had outlawed nearly all abortions.


Her unborn baby was developing without a skull. She had to leave Louisiana to get an abortion.

June 13, 2023

The day before Mardi Gras, Brittany and Chris Vidrine got exciting news — Brittany was pregnant. They would be adding a third child to their family.

But when she went in for a 16-week checkup, Brittany Vidrine learned her baby had anencephaly, a fetal abnormality in which a baby’s skull does not form. There is no known cure or treatment. It causes almost all babies to die shortly after birth, according to the Centers for Disease Control.


Doctors Are Still Confused by Abortion Exceptions in Louisiana. It’s Limiting Essential Care

MAY 24, 2023

The Louisiana state legislature shot down two bills last week that aimed to clarify the legality of abortion and miscarriage care in pregnancies with complications.

The existing laws in Louisiana allow for abortions in certain cases when a pregnant patient’s life or health may be at risk, but physicians have criticized the texts for being confusing and limiting their ability to provide essential medical care.


Louisiana doctors detail unintended consequences of state’s abortion ban

APRIL 30, 2023

"I am more likely to die than my mother was in childbirth. So as a country, our outcomes are getting worse," Dr. Rebekah Gee, an OB-GYN and a former secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health, told 60 Minutes.

Gee was interviewed by 60 Minutes correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi as part of Sunday's report on maternal mortality rates in the United States. According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. has one of the highest rates of maternal death in the developed world, with Louisiana possessing some of the highest rates of any American state.