Ohio requires in-person administration of medical abortion

Pregnancy Test Credit Flickr Ernesto Andrade  CNA Pregnancy Test. / Flickr/Ernesto Andrade.

The governor of Ohio has signed a bill which requires physicians to be present during the administration of the first drug of an abortion pill regimen, banning the practice of "telemedicine abortion" procedures in the state.

Senate Bill 260 was passed by the Ohio House of Representatives by a vote of 54-30, which was along party lines.

Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed the bill into law Jan. 9.

Senate Bill 260 states, "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."

A medical abortion requires the use of two drugs: the first cuts off the supply of nutrients to the unborn child; the second contracts the uterus to expel the now-deceased child. About a third of all abortions in Ohio are medical abortions.
"Telemedicine" is when a patient does not see a doctor in person, but instead is able to speak to them through some form of app.
In an April interview, Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis McGill Johnson called telemedicine a "silver lining in this pandemic."
McGill Johnson noted that by the end of month, the organization would be providing telehealth services in all 50 states, from "STI screenings, to family planning, to HIV PEP and PrEP, and, in much the same way as I said, to provide some wraparound service around getting access to abortion."
In the interview, McGill Johnson noted how an expansion of telehealth increased access to chemical abortions where "that patient will come and pick up the prescription and go home and take that medication safely at home. And then we are able to do follow-up care, again via telehealth."
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Steve Huffman (R-5), a physician, disagreed with McGill Johnson's view. After the bill was passed by the House of Representatives in December, he decried the use of telemedicine as potentially unsafe.
"Although every successful abortion is a tragedy which results in the ending of a human life, abortions committed through telemedicine have the potential to add one tragedy to another by subjecting women to dangerous abortions-inducing drugs without providing basic health and safety standards," said Huffman.
"Planned Parenthood may consider the financial boost of telemedicine abortion worth the very real risk to women's lives, but as a physician, I certainly do not."

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