By Dave Andrusko
After several hours of intense debate Tuesday, the unicameral Nebraska Legislature moved the “Stop Web Cam Abortions” bill to the second stage of floor debate. Yesterday’s 34-9 vote on LB521 came after the Judiciary Committee had finally moved the bill to the floor with a 5-3 vote. For about a week it appeared as if LB521 would not make it out of committee.
Now that it has, most news accounts treated final passage—following the two required rounds of debate and final reading–as certain. Gov. Dave Heineman, a pro-life Republican, would doubtless sign the bill which is a pre-emptive move to prevent what is happening in neighboring Iowa from coming to Nebraska.
Introduced by state Sen. Tony Fulton, the bill requires “that a physician be physically present in the room when an abortion is performed, induced or attempted by instrument, device, medicine, drug or other substance,” according to the Lincoln Journal Star. Making the presence of the abortionist unnecessary is at the heart of an aggressive marketing strategy by a growing abortion conglomerate.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland operates in both Iowa and Nebraska. PP of the Heartland, which first started using web cam abortions in Iowa, has announced plans to open a dozen new clinics in Nebraska and Iowa over the next five years, six in each state.
PP of the Heartland implemented Web Cam chemical abortions at 16 remote sites across Iowa in 2008. The intent is to reach “underserved” women in rural areas, both multiplying the number of abortions and fattening PP of the Heartland’s bottom line.
Under the webcam system, an abortionist, typically from a clinic in a large urban center, communicates with a woman at a remote location by means of a video conferencing system. After a brief screening and “counseling” session, he clicks a mouse and triggers the opening of a drawer from which the woman takes out the two drugs that make up the “RU-486″ chemical abortion regimen: mifepristone and misoprostol.
“To date, they have performed over 2,000 RU-486 chemical abortions in Iowa via remote computer hook-up,” Julie Schmit-Albin, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life, told NRL News Today.
Opponents insisted on Tuesday that the bill was not necessary, either because it was covered by already existing law or because it represented an unconstitutional “undue burden” on a woman’s “right to choose.”
Schmit-Albin dismissed the objections.
“We were pleased that the first round floor debate reflected an Attorney Generals’ informal opinion that abortion is different than other medical procedures and as such, the State has an interest in providing that the standard of care for abortion be consistent,” said Schmit-Albin. “With our current statutes stating that only a licensed physician can perform an abortion, it makes sense for our statutes to also reflect that with the advent of chemical abortions, that licensed physician must also be physically present when inducing the abortion.”
Indeed, that is the whole message of the law, which pro-lifers hope to duplicate elsewhere. Not only is the abortion industry consolidating—often in the process constructing enormous facilities—changing how it performs abortion—a much heavier reliance on chemical abortions—it is also attempting to create an environment where remote control abortions are accepted.
While opponents brushed aside safety concerns, pro-lifers made them front and center.
“Requiring the physical presence of the physician is motivated by, and is important for, the safety of the mother who undergoes a chemical abortion,” Fulton said during floor debate.