The Next Abortion Ban: Telemedicine

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).

A report from medical industry publication mHealth Intelligence discusses a new monkeywrench being thrown by Republicans into the gears of women’s reproductive rights–a ban on “telemedicine” physician appointments to prescribe abortion medications:

A Congressman from Texas is seeking to make telemedicine abortions all but illegal in the US.

Rep. Ron Wright’s new bill, HR 4395, would prohibit care providers from using telehealth to prescribe abortion drugs unless they have physically examined the patient, are physically present when the patient takes the medications, and schedule a follow-up visit…

Roughly 25 percent of the abortions performed in the U.S. are non-surgical, or medical abortions. The process can be paired with a telemedicine platform in two ways: a physician can examine a patient via telemedicine, then issue a prescription for mifepristone and misoprostol to the patient to terminate the pregnancy; or a remote physician can examine a patient who’s at a clinic, then issue instructions to clinic personnel to dispense the drugs from a locked cabinet that is remotely opened by the doctor.

As states have moved in recent to impose all manner of incremental restrictions and medically dubious regulations on access to abortion, telemedicine has emerged as a novel way for women to circumvent so-called “TRAP” legislation and get the care they need. It’s only natural that a ban on the practice would emerge as soon as anti-abortion Republicans became aware of it, and we fully expect to see a state-level version of this ban introduced in the Colorado legislature next January–where it will die, of course, after giving the issue’s diehards another chance to sound off in futility. This federal version was filed in the Democratic-controlled U.S. House for similar reasons.

The bill, which was filed on October 30, has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for further action. It has 12 co-sponsors: Reps. John Joyce (R-PA), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Randy Weber Sr. (R-TX), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), John Rutherford (R-FL), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), [Pols emphasis] Mark Meadows (R-NC), Jody Hice (R-GA), Jim Banks (R-IN), Andy Harris (R-MD) and Bob Gibbs (R-OH).

And no surprise, Colorado’s Rep. Doug Lamborn is an original cosponsor! One of the ways Colorado’s least inspiring member of Congress defends his safe GOP seat from perennial primary challengers is by never missing the chance to jump all over sticky wedge issues the base can’t resist. Opposition to telemedicine appointments for reproductive care is difficult to oppose on the merits–if you oppose it, it’s probably because you oppose all abortion and recognize telemedicine as a way of circumventing other arbitrary restrictions.

Par for the course for Doug Lamborn, Colorado’s premiere “gynotician.”

5 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. DaftPunk says:

    You can have telemedicine AB's from licensed scrupulous providers, or you can have internet AB's from whoever throws up a website in India, Moldova or wherever.

    Women will get abortions.  Republicans want women to get unsafe abortions.

    • kwtree says:

      Yup. I remember back in the day, women were training how to do "menstrual extraction" as a DIY procedure. Thankfully, that fad died on the vine.

      And the crap young kids believe about conception and contraception is scary, (You can't get pregnant if you do it standing up / if you shower afterwards / if you douche with coca cola / the first time ) . . . Since the evangelical right throws hissy fits at anything approximating factual sex education.

      Same as it ever was.


      • JohnInDenver says:

        Why does the Congress get to set medical policy?  I could have sworn Republicans keep saying that states ought to control medicine and the federal government should remain small and not interfere. 

        Fortunately, with a Democratic majority in the House and Senate, and a Democratic Governor, sensible programs to provide Long Acting Reproductive Contraception can get passed.  Proven to diminish unplanned pregnancies, abortions and teen-aged mothers giving birth, the program passed without a single Republican Senator supporting it.

        If people are opposed to abortions, they could do social policies proven to diminish them.  And of course, they could help educate youth to act in ways to not personally have one.  The favored choices of Republicans, telling youth "say no" and making sure no one other than parents educate their children are losing propositions. 


  2. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    There is something to be said for doctors not diagnosing, or treating, patients without an actual physical or mental exam of some sort. Also, followup to a procedure can be essential.

    That being said, times are changing. I can get a prescription filled by e-mailing my doctor at Kaiser. If I as a male can do this, why should women be restricted from having access to similar services? Is the good Congressman Lamborn one of those males who think women are second class citizens and nothing more than brood sows? 

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