Idaho Senate votes 27-7 to curb web-cam abortions

Bill returns to House for quick reconciliation with Senate version

By Dave Andrusko

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter

There are currently 18 states that require abortionists to perform in-person exams when they use chemical abortifacients.

A similar measure has now passed both the Idaho House (55-17) and the Senate (27-7). All seven “nay” votes today were cast by Democrats.

Because the Senate made a slight change in the House version, the bill goes back to the House for its expected approval.

Once the House concurs, it will go to the desk of Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter.

The requirement protects women’s health and is a direct challenge to webcam abortions (or, as proponents prefer to call them, telemed abortions).

In webcam abortions an abortionist located at a hub clinic teleconferences with a woman at one of the smaller satellite offices, reviews her case, and asks a couple of perfunctory questions. He then 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.

“These web-cam abortions are specifically targeted at women in very rural parts of our state. How will they get to a physician … in case of an incomplete abortion?” said Sen. Mary Souza. “Those are life-threatening situations. So I think it would behoove us to pass this bill, because it is a matter of women’s health, and I think in Idaho we have the common sense to see that this is an important procedure for us to protect women and to not go down this path in our health care delivery system”

Randall K. O'Bannon, Ph.D.

Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D.

On February 23, Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon, NRLC’s director of Education, testified before the Idaho House State Affairs Committee.

Dr. O’Bannon summarized how webcam abortions work and the much-underreported dangers of chemical abortions.

Dr. O’Bannon read from the tally from a postmarketing summary on mifepristone published by the FDA on April 30, 2011.

* more than 2,200 reports of “adverse events” or complications (2,207)

* more than 600 women (612) hospitalized

* more than 300 (339) requiring transfusions

* 256 women reported infections, with 48 of them classified as severe

* 58 cases of ectopic pregnancies, which the pills do not treat

Sometimes these complications prove deadly.

The FDA knew of at least 14 deaths associated with use of these drugs in the U.S. and at least five more in other countries. And that was nearly four years ago!

The Idaho bill also requires that abortionists make “all reasonable efforts” to ensure that women return between 12 and 18 days after their abortions for follow-up examinations.