Louisiana governor signs abortion pill 'reversal' bill

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed into law a Republican-backed bill requiring that doctors administering abortions in the state inform patients that they may stop the pregnancy termination process halfway through taking the abortion pill. 

The legislation, which was previously passed overwhelmingly by the GOP-dominated Louisiana state legislature, was one of several bills signed into law by the anti-abortion Democratic governor on Friday. The governor announced that he had now acted on all legislation from the 2021 Regular Session. 

The new law states promotes the distribution of details on “reversing” a medication-induced abortion, a claim which has been disputed and which professional groups like the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say is not backed by scientific evidence. 

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The drug regimen includes two drugs, with mifepristone taken first and misoprostol taken later. The nonsurgical abortion is available to patients during the first nine weeks of pregnancy. 

Under the Louisiana law, doctors, “whether in a licensed outpatient abortion facility, private medical office, or any other facility,” must when the drug “mifepristone is administered, dispensed, or otherwise provided to a pregnant woman” also staple a specific “disclosure statement” onto “a bag, envelope, or other package that contains misoprostol for the pregnant woman to self-administer at home.” 

The statement, as articulated in the text of the bill, informs women, “Research has indicated that the first pill provided, identified as mifepristone, is not always effective in ending a pregnancy. If after taking the first pill you regret your decision, please consult a physician or healthcare provider immediately to determine if there are options available to assist you in continuing your pregnancy."

The law comes despite the fact that a federal judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked a similar Indiana law that had required medical providers share information on “reversing” a pill-induced abortion.

U.S. District Court Judge James Patrick Hanlon said in his ruling that abortion-rights groups that filed a lawsuit against the Indiana measure had "a reasonable likelihood of success" on their argument that forcing health care providers to detail specific information violates their free speech rights. 

The newly signed Louisiana law is scheduled to take effect Aug. 1. 

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Edwards in a statement shared on Friday’s newly signed and vetoed laws said that while “much has been made of a handful of controversial bills, the reality is that this legislative session has produced many good laws that will improve the lives of Louisianans.” 

“We did this through bipartisan cooperation and compromise,” he added. “As we have proven time and time again, the people of Louisiana are best served when all of us put aside our differences and focus on projects, programs and progress for all.”