The Ohio Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that bans doctors from using telemedicine to prescribe abortion-inducing drugs.
State Sen. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City), who sponsored the bill, says doctors need to see patients in person when prescribing abortion inducing drugs because they can be dangerous.
“It’s not about limiting access. It’s about the safety of that woman," Huffman says.
State Sen. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) doesn’t buy that argument. She notes lawmakers have not passed restrictions on other drugs prescribed via telemedicine.
“It does set up a question of why this and nothing else," Antonio says.
Patients, especially those in rural areas with less health care access, can often communicate with doctors via teleconference. Planned Parenthood says it's been using telemedicine in Ohio to provide medication abortions for almost two years, but that patients first visit a health center to be examined by a doctor in person before taking any abortion-inducing drugs.
"People should be able to access safe, quality abortion no matter who they are or where they live," said Lauren Blauvelt-Copelin of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio. "Ohio legislators should not be in the business of taking health care away from its citizens, and instead, focus on expanding access to reproductive health care."
About 30% of abortions in Ohio are medication-induced.
The bill, SB 260, passed the Senate along party lines. The legislation now goes to the Ohio House.
A similar law in Iowa was struck down by the state Supreme Court in 2015.