Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill Wednesday banning remotely administered abortions, a preemptive strike designed to protect women’s safety.
The legislation was a top priority for pro-life advocates in the state. The now-banned procedure, known as telemedicine or webcam abortions, allows an abortionist in one location to administer abortion-inducing drugs by remotely unlocking a drawer in the pregnant woman’s location. But the distance between the abortionist and woman places the woman at risk should complications occur, said bill sponsor state Sen. Missy Irvin.
“This is about the safety of the mother,” she said. “I think this is a serious operation, a serious procedure, whether it’s surgical or by chemical.”
The bill’s opponents defended the abortion method’s safety while arguing the bill would inhibit abortion access for women in rural, underserved areas. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland—which provides abortion services in Iowa, Arkansas, Nebraska, and part of Oklahoma—said it didn’t intend to offer webcam abortions in Arkansas.
The law also requires abortionists to schedule a follow-up appointment between 12 and 18 days after the abortion. Violations result in the revocation of the abortionist’s medical license, although the woman is exempted from punishment. The bill doesn’t affect telemedicine involving drugs unrelated to abortion.
A similar bill passed in the Idaho House of Representatives Monday and is headed to the state Senate for vote. Sixteen other states currently require abortionists to administer abortifacients in-person, and 38 require administration by a licensed physician.
“It is one thing to try to conduct a consultation over an x-ray or hold a counseling session over a video conference, or even to try to perform some emergency life-saving procedure when medical professionals aren’t around,” said Randall K. O’Bannon, National Right to Life Committee’s director of education. “But it’s quite another thing entirely to use a video teleconferencing system to sell more abortion pills to women in rural areas for whom you don’t want to train or hire or send the staff to adequately treat.”
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Publication date: March 9, 2015