Tuesday, March 20, 2012

House committee approves ban on webcam abortions

The following news release was issued today, March 20, 2012.

ST. PAUL — Legislation to ensure women's safety was approved 14-6 by the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee today. The bill to ban "webcam abortions" has the strong support of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state's oldest and largest pro-life organization.

H.F. 2341 (S.F. 1912), authored by Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, would stop dangerous webcam abortions by requiring that a physician be physically present during an abortion. Webcam abortions involve the RU486 abortion drug, administered via video conference with an abortion provider in another location. The doctor talks with the woman, and then presses a button which opens a drawer to remotely dispense the drug.

The doctor is never physically present in a webcam abortion to examine the woman for any problems such as a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy. Planned Parenthood began offering webcam abortions last year at its Rochester facility; women consult with a doctor in St. Paul.

"Not only is it shocking to know that Planned Parenthood is offering these abortions, but its actions show a real disregard for the health and safety of women given the especially dangerous complications and risks associated with RU486," said MCCL Legislative Associate Jordan Marie Harris.

The risks of RU486 can be severe: 14 women are known to have died in the U.S. after taking the drugs, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Just yesterday, an Australian agency disclosed that a woman there died from an infection after taking RU486. A prominent gynecologist and advocate of RU486 has called for a review of the drugs' protocol.

At least six states, including North Dakota and South Dakota, have already banned webcam abortions, and other states, like Wisconsin, are currently working to pass legislation to the same effect. RU486 is not legal in Canada, due to safety concerns.

"Physician involvement, as well as the patient-doctor relationship, is critical in helping to mitigate the risk of very serious complications occurring as a result of taking RU486," MCCL's Harris added.