Senate Amdt Would Prohibit Tax-Funding Telemed Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 18, 2011   |   4:16PM   |   Washington, DC

Sen. Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, is offering an amendment to legislation in the U.S. Senate that could receive a vote as early as today or tomorrow to ensure taxpayer funds are not used to pay for the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug under a telemedicine grant section.

The amendment is similar to the one Congressman Steve King, an Iowa Republican, introduced in the House this summer that the lower chamber approved on a bipartisan 240-176 vote. The amendment prevents any funds within the legislation from being spent on the abortion drug RU-486 “for any purpose,” including use in “telemed abortions.”

Telemed, or webcam, abortions are those in which a woman gets the abortion drug only after a webcam conversation with the abortion practitioner, who may be out of state. The woman is denied the in-person consultation with a physician that the Food and Drug Administration recommends, especially due to the dangerous nature of the drug as it has killed dozens of women worldwide and injured 2,200 alone as of April 2011 FDA figures. The consultation helps determine whether or not the woman may suffer from an ectopic pregnancy — as usage of the abortion drug RU 486 in such instances is life-threatening.

Abortion providers like Planned Parenthood are the frequent recipient of federal telemedicine grants, and King’s amendment makes it clear that telemedicine grants contained within the agriculture bill cannot be used to facilitate the use of RU-486 in “telemed abortions.” King and DeMint tell LifeNews the issue is of particular importance as the practice spreads to other states from Iowa, where 1,900 such telemed abortions have been done.

“Doctors at Planned Parenthood have been using telemedicine conferencing to prescribe RU 486, commonly known as the abortion drug,” King’s office said in comments on the bill. “These doctors are not present when the woman takes the drug and have never had any personal contact with the woman. The presence of this drug has led to more taking of human life. It was even more disheartening to learn that doctors at Planned Parenthood had found a way to make it even easier for a woman to get this drug.”

“Not only do telemedicine consultations make it easier for a woman to have an abortion, it makes it much more dangerous. Pregnant women should not be making the decision to terminate a life without a doctor present and should not be enduring this gruesome, invasive and harmful procedure without the presence of a doctor,” King’s office added. “It’s a multi-day treatment that is dangerous at every step. The FDA guidelines say that the woman must be in the presence of a doctor and must return after 14 days. Planned Parenthood has been using telemedicine to circumvent the intent of this guideline which was the safety of the woman.”

“This amendment must be passed in order to ensure that no taxpayer dollars are going to build facilities or set up computer networks designed to facilitate these gruesome, and dangerous procedures over the Internet,” the lawmaker concluded.

The pro-abortion group NARAL is already working to jam Senate phone lines against the amendment, with a communication to its members opposing the DeMint amendment.

“Sen. DeMint is so obsessed with attacking a woman’s right to choose that he’s using an agriculture and transportation bill to advance his agenda,” NARAL president Nancy Keenan claimed. “Last week, anti-choice politicians in the House used an entire day to pass yet another anti-choice measure. Apparently, Sen. DeMint is trying to play catch up with the House. This kind of political gamesmanship jeopardizes women’s health and privacy and is out of touch with our country’s values and priorities.”

During the debate in the House on the amendment, King said Republican lawmakers had learned from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that Planned Parenthood had been receiving taxpayer-funded grants to pay for webcam abortions.

“Smoe of us signed a letter – 70 of us – to Kathleen Sebelius and asked if they had distributed grants for telemedicine to any of the abortion providers including Planned Parenthood,” Rep. King said. “There response came back in the affirmative that they had issued several grants to Planned Parenthood. And these funds, as near as we can determine, are being used to provide telemedicine for the robo-abortions, the robo-Skype abrotions as I’ve described.”

The House vote (see saw 226 Republicans and 14 Democrats join together to ensure Planned Parenthood won’t receive funds for telemed abortions while 176 members, including 167 Democrats and 9 Republicans, voted to fund the abortion business to do abortions in this dangerous manner.

ACTION: Contact your senators at and urge them to support the DeMint amendment.