Monday, April 30, 2012

Dayton kills ban on dangerous ‘webcam abortions’

The following was released today, April 30.

ST. PAUL — Legislation to ban "webcam abortions" was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton today. The women's safety measure had the strong support of the Legislature and Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state's oldest and largest pro-life organization.

"Once again, Gov. Dayton has come to the defense of the abortion industry at the expense of women's safety," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "This is the seventh pro-life initiative that would protect women and unborn children that has been vetoed. The Dayton record is now clear: he is no friend of women or their babies."

H.F. 2341, authored by Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd, and Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, would have stopped dangerous webcam abortions by requiring that a physician be physically present when administering the drugs for a chemical 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 a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy or any other condition or factor that would make this abortion procedure especially dangerous for her. Planned Parenthood began offering webcam abortions last year at its Rochester facility; women consult with a doctor in St. Paul. The webcam abortion method is cost-effective for Planned Parenthood, allowing it to forgo a surgical center and on-site physician.

"This legislation focuses primarily on the life of the mother," Gazelka said during floor debate. "A doctor will do the exam to make sure the woman is a proper patient for this. So this is certainly looking out for the best interest of the mother but not the best interest of the abortion provider."

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

"This is a very serious and dangerous drug and we just don't want to take this lightly," Peppin said during floor debate. "The FDA requires a physician to administer this drug."

Planned Parenthood introduced webcam abortions in Iowa in 2008 at one location; now it promotes them at nearly all of its 17 Iowa locations. Planned Parenthood has 18 locations in Minnesota and could greatly expand availability of this dangerous abortion method.