Ohio governor signs telemedicine abortion ban into law

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signs a bill into law on Thursday, April 11, 2019 that bans abortions on unborn babies for which a heartbeat can be detected. |

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has signed a bill into law requiring that abortion-inducing drugs be taken in the presence of a physician, thus banning the practice of telemedicine abortions.

Also known as Senate Bill 260 and sponsored by State Senator Steve Huffman, DeWine signed the proposed legislation into law on Saturday, along with a host of other bills.

“No physician shall personally furnish or otherwise provide an abortion-inducing drug to a pregnant woman unless the physician is physically present at the location where the initial dose of the drug or regimen of drugs is consumed at the time the initial dose is consumed,” reads SB 260, in part.

“Nothing in this section shall be construed as creating or recognizing a right to abortion or affirming the lawfulness of an abortion that would otherwise be unlawful.”

Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis celebrated the passage of the law, saying in a statement that it was “a victory for life and for women’s safety.”

“Although every chemical abortion is a tragedy than ends a baby’s life, this law helps prevent further loss of life by protecting women from an abortion industry which puts profits before safety,” stated Gonidakis.

“Planned Parenthood’s use of telemedicine to dispense abortion-inducing drugs cuts their own costs at the expense of basic health and safety standards. Patient safety shouldn’t have a price tag. Women deserve better.”

In a medical abortion, women are given two drugs: mifepristone (also known as Mifeprex or RU-486), which works by works by blocking the effects of the natural pregnancy hormone progesterone, and misoprostol, which induces contractions and a miscarriage.

Even before the pandemic, pro-choice activists had been pushing for it to be legal for medical professionals to administer such drugs remotely, such as via an internet livestream.

Last July, a federal judge suspended a Food & Drug Administration rule requiring women to see a doctor before abortion-inducing drugs are dispensed to them to have an at-home abortion.

U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang argued in his decision that the in-person requirement presented a “substantial obstacle” to women seeking an abortion.

“Particularly in light of the limited timeframe during which a medication abortion or any abortion must occur, such infringement on the right to an abortion would constitute irreparable harm,” wrote Chuang.

“By causing certain patients to decide between forgoing or substantially delaying abortion care, or risking exposure to COVID-19 for themselves, their children, and family members, the In-Person Requirements present a serious burden to many abortion patients.”

Pro-life activists and other have argued that taking the drugs remotely is dangerous, since doing so involves an absence of medical professionals nearby to help with any complications.

According to the FDA’s website, 24 women have died from using Mifeprex from when it was approved in 2000 until Dec. 31, 2018, as well as “several cases of severe systemic infection (also called sepsis), including some that were fatal.”

The FDA added that these “adverse events cannot with certainty be causally attributed to mifepristone because of concurrent use of other drugs, other medical or surgical treatments, co-existing medical conditions, and information gaps about patient health status and clinical management of the patient.”

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