Michigan Lawmakers Ban Abortion Drugs by Teleconference

The 2012 legislation that allows doctors to teleconference has been useful in treating patients in rural areas, but lawmakers settled Thursday on limiting the prescription of the abortion-inducing drugs mifepristone and misoprostol in such cases.

by Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press / December 13, 2018
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(TNS) — Doctors would continue to be prohibited from prescribing abortion-inducing drugs through a teleconference call under a bill that received final passage Thursday.

The bill was passed at about 2 a.m. Thursday on a 62-47, mostly party line vote with one Republican Rep. David Maturen, of Brady Township, joining all the Democrats in voting against the measure.

Lawmakers approved sweeping legislation in 2012 that would allow doctors to have teleconferences with patients on a wide variety of medical issues. The technology has become especially useful to patients in rural areas who have limited access to hospitals and specialized physicians.

But legislators banned physicians from prescribing abortion pills — mifepristone and misoprostol — during those telemedicine sessions.

That portion of the law was supposed to expire on Dec. 31, but the House of Representatives' vote extended the ban permanently.

Abortion opponents, such as Michigan Right to Life, supported the legislation as a common sense restriction to protect the health and safety of women, who could experience complications from the abortion drug,

But abortion rights' supporters said the bill was just another way the Legislature has continuously tried to take away reproductive rights from Michigan women.

"We should be ensuring that every woman has the freedom to access the safe and legal health care options she needs when she needs it and telemedicine expands access to health care to every corner of our state, which is incredibly important to women in rural communities," said Rep. Christine Greig, D-Farmington HIlls. "This doesn’t address the ongoing doctor shortage in our state. The only thing it does is force obstacles to reproductive health care that women deserve."

The bill — SB 1198 — now goes to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.

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