An Idaho senate committee on Monday approved a proposal that would effectively ban telemedicine abortion in the state, sending the bill to the full senate for amendment.
Though it doesn’t outright ban the practice, HB 154, the “Physician Physical Presence and Women Protection Act,” would institute a number of requirements on physicians that would make providing telemedical abortion care effectively impossible.
Among other provisions, the bill would prohibit dispensing abortion-inducing drugs unless a physician has examined the patient in person, has determined that the patient is not experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, and has the ability to provide surgical intervention in the case of an emergency, either through admitting privileges with a local hospital or through written agreement with local physicians who can provide emergency care.
The state house approved HB 154 this month, moving the proposal to the state senate for consideration.
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Telemedicine abortion allows people who live in rural areas or at a great distance from a reproductive health-care provider to access medication abortion. Physicians can use video conference tools to remotely prescribe and direct the patient while she takes mifepristone, a drug used to terminate pregnancy.
Only two states, Iowa and Minnesota, make telemedicine abortion care available, and 16 states have outright banned the practice. These bans have come despite recommendations from the World Health Organization and the National Abortion Federation that physicians assistance and other mid-level providers can safely offer medication abortion.
An identical bill, HB 88, was also introduced in Idaho this session, though it has not moved out of committee. A bill similar to both was introduced in Idaho in 2013, but failed to pass.
Both state legislative chambers are dominated by Republicans, with a 29-8 senate majority and a 56-14 house advantage.