Bills to prohibit dangerous “webcam abortions” and to require licensure of abortion centers were approved by the Minnesota Senate Health and Human Services Committee today on voice votes. It was the first hearing for both measures seeking women’s safety, which have the strong support of Minnesota Citizens
Concerned for Life (MCCL).
S.F. 1912 (H.F. 2341), authored by Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd, would stop dangerous webcam abortions by requiring that a physician be physically present during an abortion. Webcam abortions involve the RU486 abortion drug, administered via video conference with an abortion practitioner in another location, denying her an in-person consultation.
The abortion practitioner is never physically present to examine the woman for any problems such as a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy. Planned Parenthood began offering webcam abortions last year at its Rochester facility; women consult with an abortion practitioner in St. Paul.
“Abortion is like no other procedure, as the courts have recognized. As Justice Potter Stewart wrote for the majority in Harris v. McRae (1980), ‘Abortion is inherently different from other medical procedures because no other procedure involves the purposeful termination of a potential life,’” said MCCL Legislative Associate Jordan Marie Harris in testimony. “This legislation seeks to protect women by requiring that a physician be in the same room and in the physical presence of the woman when administering RU486.”
Three advocates of webcam abortion testified, including Carrie Terrell of Whole Women’s Health abortion center in Minneapolis, and Karen Law of Pro-Choice Resources. No mention was made of the importance of the doctor-patient relationship, a hallmark of “pro-choice” arguments.
S.F. 1921 (H.F. 2340), authored by Sen. Claire Robling, R-Jordan, would require facilities that perform 10 or more abortions per month to be licensed. The state commissioner of health would establish rules necessary for licensure. The bill also authorizes the commissioner to perform inspections of abortion facilities as deemed necessary, with no prior notice required.
“The purpose of all government regulation is to protect the public by enforcing minimum standards. This legislation asks the Department of Health (MDH) to determine specifically what these standards would be,” MCCL Legislative Associate Andrea Rau testified.
No one testified in opposition to the bill. Both bills will now be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Passage of the webcam abortion ban came on the heels of the Wisconsin Senate approving a similar measure.
With the drug having killed dozens of women worldwide and injured more than 2,200 alone in the United States, according to April 2011 FDA figures, pro-life groups have been concerned about Planned Parenthood putting women’s health at risk.
Last year, Wisconsin Right to Life informed LifeNews that Planned Parenthood has begun using the extremely dangerous RU 486 web-cam abortion technique in Minnesota. According to Planned Parenthood Minnesota spokesperson Connie Lewis, the organization began doing webcam abortions at their Rochester facility — making it the first time the abortion business has expanded doing abortions beyond the twin cities area.
Wisconsin may be next for the webcam abortion process.
“We have known for some time about Planned Parenthood’s deadly plan to bring RU 486 web-cam abortions to cities and towns throughout the nation. First it was Iowa, then Minnesota. Now it appears Planned Parenthood is set to begin expanding its abortion business here in Wisconsin,” says Susan Armacost, the legislative director of Wisconsin Right to Life.
“Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin (PPWI) is already the state’s largest abortion provider but it is not content to limit the performance of abortions to its three abortions clinics in the state,” Amacost explained. “Now it appears it wants to offer dangerous RU 486 chemical abortions to women in towns and cities like Portage, Beaver Dam, Delavan and other Wisconsin locations where PPWI has not previously operated abortion clinics.”
“Since only a handful of doctors want to perform abortions, it would be difficult for PPWI to expand its surgical abortion operations. But by providing RU 486 web-cam abortions, PPWI can expand its lucrative abortion business without even having a doctor physically present,” Armacost goes on to say. “Web-cam abortions were initiated by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and piloted in Iowa where 2,000 of these abortions took place, with the intention of exporting this technique to other states. A woman enters a Planned Parenthood facility and discusses her abortion by web-cam with an abortionist in another city or perhaps even another state. After the information exchange, the abortionist presses a button which opens a drawer at the woman’s location. Her abortion drugs (RU 486 and prostaglandin, a labor-inducing drug) are in the drawer and the abortionist watches her take the medication via web-cam. The woman is never examined by the physician.”
RU 486 and its companion drug are administered between the fifth and ninth weeks of pregnancy, after pregnancy has been confirmed and the process typically involves three trips to a doctor. About half of the women abort while at the doctor’s office, with another 26 percent having an abortion within the next 20 hours at any location at home or in public. The remainder either have an abortion in the coming weeks or none at all of the drug fails to work — making it so a surgical abortion is required.
Through April, the FDA reports 2,207 adverse events related to the use of RU 486, including 14 deaths, 612 hospitalizations, 58 ectopic pregnancies, 339 blood transfusions, and 256 cases of infections in the United States alone. A European drug manufacturer has publicly stated that 28 women have died worldwide after using RU 486/mifepristone.