Michigan Senate OKs extension of abortion telemedicine ban

Posted at 7:39 PM, Nov 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-29 19:39:48-05

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Republican-led Michigan Senate voted Thursday to make permanent a ban against doctors prescribing abortion drugs remotely.

The bill , approved 25-12 almost entirely along party lines, was sent to the GOP-controlled House for future consideration in the lame-duck session.

An abortion law enacted in 2012 includes a provision requiring physicians to conduct a physical exam of a patient wanting a medical abortion, which is when drugs are used to end a pregnancy. They cannot use other means, including a webcam, to diagnose and prescribe a medical abortion. And they must be present when the drugs are dispensed.

That section and another one mandating that certain information be given to the patient are due to expire after Dec. 31. The legislation would extend the requirements and prohibitions indefinitely.

Democratic Sen. Rebekah Warren of Ann Arbor, who voted against the measure, said “there is no medical, scientific or legal argument for banning telemedicine use in these circumstances.” She said the ban unfairly targets women, particularly those in rural areas with a lack of OB-GYN access, while Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan said delivering abortion-inducing drugs through telehealth “is just as safe and effective as in-person protocols.”

But Genevieve Marnon, legislative director for Right to Life of Michigan, said the restriction is not new and aligns with prohibitions passed in 19 other states and recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration.

“Women who want a chemical abortion can still access them in the state of Michigan,” she said. “This prevents people from Skyping with a doctor a hundred, thousands of miles away. If they have a complication, who are they going to follow up with?”