Minnesota Bills Ban Webcam Abortions, Allow Inspections

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 16, 2012   |   8:45PM   |   St. Paul, MN

Two pro-life bills introduced in the Minnesota state legislature provide protection for women and unborn children by banning webcam abortions and allowing inspections of abortion centers that may place women’s health at risk.

A bill to ban “webcam abortions” and another to allow abortion facilities to be inspected have the strong support of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. The group indicates S.F. 1912 and H.F. 2341, authored by Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd, and Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, 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 who is at another location and not providing the woman with an in-person medical exam as suggested by the FDA. The doctor talks with the woman, then presses a button which opens a drawer to remotely dispense the drug. The abortion practitioner is never physically present to examine the woman for any problems such as a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood began doing webcam abortions last year at its Rochester facility; women consult with an abortion practitioner based in St. Paul.

The risks of RU486 can be severe: 14 women are known to have died in the U.S. after taking the drugs, according to the Food and Drug Administration and another 2,200 have been injured — according to April 2011 FDA data.

“Webcam abortions are highly cost-effective for abortion providers, but far too risky for women,” said MCCL Legislative Associate Jordan Marie Harris. “As with any medical procedure, the safety of the patient must be the primary concern, not profit.”

S.F. 1921 and H.F. 2340, authored by Sen. Claire Robling, R-Jordan, and Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville, 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.

Minnesota licenses game farms, youth camps, nursing homes and veterinary medicine facilities, but not abortion providers, even though abortion is one of the most common medical procedures in the state. Health dangers have been uncovered at unlicensed abortion centers in cities outside Minnesota in recent years.

“For far too long, Minnesota’s abortion industry has operated outside the jurisdiction of the Department of Health, and this has left women vulnerable,” Harris said. “It is time that the state ensure the safety of women.”