Monday marks the latest round in the Idaho Legislature’s War on Women. The Senate State Affairs Committee is holding a “hearing” on House Bill 154, titled, “Physician Physical Presence and Women Protection Act,” which is ironic because the bill doesn’t do anything to protect women and conservative lawmakers won’t be hearing anything.
HB 154 prohibits the use of telemedicine to administer a medical abortion. In lay language, it makes it illegal for a doctor to asses and treat a patient in a remote location who is seeking an abortion using the drug RU-486.
So what are the facts?
- Medical abortions are very safe; they are much safer than childbirth
- Telemedicine is widely used for childbirth, especially in rural areas
- Telemedicine is used for the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients
- Telemedicine abortions are as effective, safe and acceptable to women as in-person physician visits
- Telemedicine increases access to early abortions
- Medical abortions can be used in the earliest weeks of pregnancy
- Telemedicine does not increase abortion rates
This is from the The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:
“Medical abortion can be provided safely and effectively via telemedicine with a high level of patient satisfaction; moreover, the model appears to improve access to early abortion in areas that lack a physician health care provider.”
HB 154 is not based on any evidence. Instead, it’s part of a national movement to hinder women’s access to high-quality healthcare, particularity in rural areas.
Every state where telemedicine abortions have been available, the procedure has proven safe and effective. But Idaho lawmakers don’t care; they want to ban it anyway.
In fact, abortion is only type of remote care where lawmakers have sought to restrict telemedicine services, according to Jon Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association.
So let’s be clear.
- There is nothing unsafe about telemedicine
- Medical abortions are much less risky than many other telemedicine procedures
- No other telemedicine procedures are being challenged
This bill has nothing to do with safety. Instead, it’s about restricting high-quality healthcare alternatives and forcing government into the lives of women.