Idaho House committee votes 13-4 in favor of law to curb web-cam abortions

By Dave Andrusko

web_cam_graphicAfter hearing testimony, including from NRLC Director of Education Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon, the Idaho House State Affairs Committee yesterday voted 13-4 in favor of House Bill 154. The measure would require abortionists to perform in-person exams when they use chemical abortifacients.

Currently, 17 states have laws on the books which say abortionists cannot avoid the duty of being in the same room as the pregnant woman—the core of so-called “webcam” abortions.

“Proponents of the bill cited Planned Parenthood’s use of video conferencing in Iowa to prescribe pregnancy-ending drugs,” said reporter Jessica Robinson of Northwest News Network. “That state’s Board of Medicine voted to ban the practice.”

As NRL News Today reported, oral arguments before the justices of the Iowa Supreme Court are set for March 11. Last September the Iowa Supreme Court put a stay on Polk County District Court Judge Jeffrey Farrell’s decision, meaning webcam abortions continue for now.

In webcam abortions (which proponents insist is part of telemedicine) an abortionist at a hub clinic teleconferences with a woman at one of the smaller satellite offices, reviews her case, and asks a couple of questions. If satisfied, he clicks a mouse, remotely unlocking a drawer at her location.

In that drawer are the abortion pills which make up the two-drug abortion technique (RU-486 and a prostaglandin). She takes the RU-486 there and takes the rest of the pills home to administer to herself later.

“As the testimony demonstrates, it is in Planned Parenthood’s interest to make this a discussion over telemedicine, in general, rather than the unique risks associated with chemical abortion and what telemedicine does to compound those risks,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, JD, NRLC Director of State Legislation.

Balch noted that telemedicine is not currently used for any other invasive procedures in this country or anything similar to abortion. It is mainly used for primary care doctors to share charts, X-rays and other vitals with specialists, or to monitor medical devices in use by patients to measure things like heart ECGs and blood glucose levels, or to help consumers get specialized information, participate in discussion groups or for medical education.

“Use of telemedicine for abortion is inappropriate because there is no doctor to examine the woman before the abortion or to give follow-up care in the case of an emergency,” Balch told NRL News Today.

Indeed, webcam abortions are not the safe, pain-free, “natural” abortions that proponents paint them out to be.

An April 30, 2011, FDA “Mifepristone U.S. Postmarketing Adverse Events Summary” found more than 2,200 “adverse events” associated with use of the abortion drugs, including 14 women in the U.S. who died. Women taking the drug were hospitalized with ruptured ectopic pregnancies, blood loss requiring transfusions, and infections that proved deadly in at least seven cases. This is much more serious than simply taking an aspirin suggested by a nurse over the phone.

And that was nearly four years ago!

“Given what we know about the all too real dangers of chemical abortions for both their intended and unintended victims, no one should be doing them, but least of all, some video doctor from hundreds of miles away who has never physically examined his patient and won’t be anywhere near if something goes wrong,” Dr. O’Bannon told NRL News Today.

Idaho News Service’s Dave Goins reported on some of the testimony. He wrote

Formerly the executive director at the Pregnancy Crisis Center in Twin Falls, Pocatello resident Marilyn Scott Francis testified in favor of the measure. She cited an example of a woman she spoke to during her career that had ultimately been uncomfortable with an abortion.

The woman during a hotline telephone call with Francis indicated she had suffered painful discomfort during a chemical-induced abortion after being sold abortion-inducing medication by Planned Parenthood, which had told her she could have the abortion “in the comfort of her own home.”

In closing, Francis said, “I urge you to support House Bill 154 so women are not further victimized.”