By Dave Andrusko
The only question was when. That turned out to be Tuesday when Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and Hawaiian Islands filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against two Idaho laws passed in 2015. One required abortionists to perform an in-person exams when they use the two drug RU-486 abortion technique. The other, the Telehealth Access Act, specifically excluded chemical abortion being obtained via webcam.
The measures passed overwhelmingly earlier this year in the Idaho House and Senate. The requirements protects women’s health and is a direct challenge to webcam abortions (or, as proponents prefer to call them, telemed abortions).
According to Reuters, Planned Parenthood
argued the restrictions violate constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law by forcing women in remote or rural areas to seek abortions later in pregnancy and travel farther and at greater risk to gain access to procedures or pharmaceuticals.
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 state Sen. Mary Souza during the debate. “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.”
As NRL News Today reported, Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon, NRLC’s director of Education, testified before the Idaho House State Affairs Committee on February 23.
Dr. O’Bannon summarized how webcam abortions work and the much-underreported dangers of chemical abortions.
(He subsequently shared with the Senate State Affairs Committee “a few questions that came up about this data and claims about the safety of mifepristone/misoprostol abortions in general” and “the assertion made by some that a desire to limit web-cam abortions is somehow an attack on telemedicine in general”)
In his house appearance, 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 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