Thursday, March 22, 2012

House committee approves webcam abortion ban for floor vote

The following news release was issued today, March 22.

ST. PAUL — Legislation to ensure women's safety was approved today by the House Civil Law committee on a voice vote in its final hearing. 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, then presses a button which opens a drawer to remotely dispense the drug. The doctor is never physically present in a webcam abortion.

Planned Parenthood began offering webcam abortions last year at its Rochester facility; women consult with a doctor in St. Paul.

"When RU486 is administered via webcam, the woman is not able to have a physical exam to verify and ensure that she has no factors making RU486 a potentially deadly procedure for her," MCCL Legislative Associate Jordan Marie Harris testified.

Since its FDA approval, at least 14 women in the United States have died after taking RU486, and more than 2,200 "adverse events" have been reported. Many of the side effects of RU486 — including prolonged pain, cramping, heavy bleeding, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and fever — can mask more serious complications, such as infection, hemorrhage, and incomplete abortion, that can sometimes lead to death. Some of these complications may even mask a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, whose symptoms mirror the expected side effects of RU486, and can also lead to death.

At least six states, including North Dakota and South Dakota, have already enacted bans on webcam abortions, and other states, like Wisconsin, are currently working to pass legislation to the same effect. Canada does not allow use of RU486 due to safety concerns.

Attempts to remove the bill's criminal penalties were not approved. The webcam ban was sent to the House for a floor vote.

"MCCL is hopeful that representatives will support this crucial legislation to protect women's health by insisting that women consult in the physical presence of a doctor prior to being administered abortion drugs," MCCL's Harris added.