Utah’s House Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology Standing Committee passed House Bill 154 on Monday to prohibit abortion drugs from being prescribed to a patient via telephone, video conferencing or computer, the Christian Times reports.
“If you’re going to have an abortion, you have to see a doctor,” the bill’s sponsor, Ken Ivory stated, according to the Kansas City Star. “You’re not going to have an abortion by email or by remote technology.”
“An abortion being something that terminates a life, to do that without ever seeing the patient, without having contact with the patient — as a matter of state policy, we’re putting in code that we don’t believe that’s appropriate,” Ivory continued.
The bill is pending approval by the Utah state legislature, which currently has a pro-life Republican supermajority, and the bill is expected to pass, the Christian Times elaborated. Telemed abortions are illegal in 19 other states, and Planned Parenthood has previously challenged similar legislation in court.
The bill grants exceptions in cases of rape, incest or endangerment to the mother’s health, the Kansas City Star reports.
Marisa Lengor Kwaning, a health policy analyst, previously explained telemed abortions are dangerous for women but profitable for the abortion industry.
Telemed abortion, otherwise known as a webcam abortion, is a procedure in which an expectant mother gets a chemical abortion when there is no doctor physically present.
The physician consults the patient via webcam and, after the doctor explains the procedure to the patient, the physician remotely activates a drawer that opens.
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The expectant mother is then provided with two abortion-inducing drugs – mifepristone and misoprostol – as part of the RU-486 protocol, administered by a nurse or clinical staff member who may or may not be licensed.
There is no physical examination of the patient by the physician on the other end of the webcam; after drugs are dispensed, the patient likely never sees that physician again.
Patrice Arent, a Democratic lawmaker in Utah, wondered why the amendment went through a utilities, energy and technology committee rather than a committee focused on science or health, the Charlotte Observer noted.
“We should not be impairing the ability of physicians to provide the most appropriate treatments that are legal,” Arent told the Deseret News. “There is a constitutional right to safe, legal abortion.”
Holly Bullock, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the University of Utah, opposed the bill, saying women living in rural areas have a harder time accessing abortions, the Charlotte Observer continued.
“I’m not a doctor, but is this a necessary part of this bill?” Democratic Rep. Lynn Hemingway stated to the Deseret News. “… Do you think that’s fair to the patient who can’t get here?”
The bill might not directly impact Utah as the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah does not currently have a telemedicine system established, Deseret News reported. However, it sets a pro-life precedence in the state and may serve to prevent a telemedicine system from being established in the future.
A woman should have access to safe, quality healthcare no matter where she lives. However, abortion is the death of a child, not healthcare for either the mother or the child, much less “quality” for anyone involved.