Ohio Senate panel OKs bill banning telemedicine abortions


COLUMBUS (AP) — Senators in Ohio are nearing a vote on a bill banning the use of telemedicine for medication abortions, after the measure cleared its first legislative hurdle last week.

The proposal sponsored by state Sen. Stephanie Kunze, a Hilliard Republican, was approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee on Wednesday, over the objections of abortion rights groups and others.

That sends the bill to a vote of the full Senate, possibly as soon as this week.

The legislation’s supporters said it is important for a doctor to physically be present when women take mifepristone for a chemical abortion to assure safety and to answer questions.

Opponents said under current law women seeking abortions are still required to visit a clinic for counseling and an ultrasound a day ahead of the procedure. They said taking the abortion medication from home on the second day, while connected online with the a clinician, is allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Abortion rights groups testified that telemedicine improves access particularly for rural women to abortion, which remains legal across the state.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, 17 states currently block clinicians from dispensing abortion medication remotely.