Members of Congress Question Sebelius on Telemed Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 4, 2011   |   2:36PM   |   Washington, DC

Seventy-one members of Congress have signed their names to a letter sponsored by pro-life Rep. Steve King of Iowa questioning Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about federal funding of telemed abortions.

The telemed or webcam abortion process involves the distribution of the dangerous abortion pill, RU 486 over the Internet, but denies women access to physical examinations or emergency care by licensed physicians.

“RU-486 is a dangerous drug that has been associated with at least 11 deaths and thousands of cases of excessive bleeding and infection,” said King in the letter. “Evading FDA guidelines by dispensing RU-486 through telemedicine has the potential to increase complications and fatalities associated with its use. We cannot allow taxpayer dollars to be used to support ‘telemed abortions.'”

Currently, this experimental abortion pill distribution scheme is only employed in Iowa but Planned Parenthood has indicated publicly that it intends to expand the practice nationwide and promote the abortion drug further to women without giving them a chance to visit a physician in person. They would be denied the in-person consultation even though the abortion drug is responsible for killing dozens of women worldwide and injuring more than 1,100 in the United States alone as of FDA figures from 2006.

The key concern for King and the other members of Congress is that Congress allocated $11.6 million in FY 2012 for HHS telemedicine programs, which are intended for the development of services in rural areas.

Sebelius is a long-time supporter of abortion, including late-term abortions, and taxpayer-funding of abortions.

The King letter has received support from the pro-life group Operation Rescue, a Kansas-based group which has joined [pro-life organizations in neighboring Iowa in publicly opposing the webcam abortion process and lobbying Iowa officials to investigate and stop it.

“Planned Parenthood’s telemed/webcam abortion scheme strips away any semblance of a doctor-patient relationship. After the abortionist electronically pops open a drawer to dispense the abortion drugs, the abortionist never sees the patient again, even if there are complications,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.

“This is a mockery of the doctor/patient relationship and a complete misuse of telemedicine,” he said of what is otherwise a legitimate practice.

“A common misconception is that telemed abortion is for women in rural areas. However, Planned Parenthood’s Iowa telemed sites are located in major population centers, including the county with the highest population in the state,” said Newman. “Telemed abortions are Planned Parenthood’s solution to a shortage of abortionists. It helps them access customers in otherwise abortion-free population centers in order to increase revenue while disregarding the health and safety of women.”

“We support Rep. King and the other members of Congress in their effort to get to the bottom of where our tax money is going. If it is funding this telemed abortion scheme, the people have a right to know, and a right to demand that the funding be stopped,” he concluded.