Michigan’s Republican-led House passed early Thursday morning legislation that makes permanent an existing prohibition against doctors prescribing abortion-inducing medication after consulting with a patient virtually.
The bill, which passed 62-47 and now goes to governor Rick Snyder’s desk to be signed into law, extends a temporary “telemedicine ban” that was passed in 2012 and was set to expire at the end of the year, the Detroit News reported early Thursday.
Proponents of the legislation argue that requiring patients to physically consult with a physician before obtaining abortion-inducing pills helps mitigate risk to the patient’s health.
“Telemedicine abortions leave women with no doctor available in the event she suffers a serious side effect, an incomplete abortion or has severe bleeding,”Genevieve Marnon of Right to Life said in committee last week. “With telemedicine, the doctor could be in another state or another country.”
Critics, meanwhile, argue the law disadvantages low-income women, especially those who reside in rural areas, who are forced to travel long distances to consult with a doctor and to obtain the drug, as current FDA regulations prohibit women from obtaining the pill at a traditional pharmacy.
“There is no medical or scientific reason to ban prescription-induced abortion,” said Rep. Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills. “Let’s not allow government to enter the doctor’s office, but honor limited government that doesn’t control my vagina. When will we finally trust women?”
The Michigan State Medical Society opposed the legislation on the grounds that it places an unfair burden on women who do not have immediate access to a clinic, hospital or doctor’s office.
“In this case, absent the ability to prescribe remotely, a woman would have to travel to a clinic, hospital or office to take the medication,” society president Betty Chu said in written testimony. “The unfortunate reality is this isn’t feasible in many remote areas of the state, hence the impetus for and expansion of telemedicine.”