Ohio Senate passes bill banning telemedicine abortions

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

The proposal cleared the floor of the Ohio Senate on a 20-9 vote Wednesday. 

Sen. Steve Huffman, a Tipp City Republican and emergency room doctor who sponsored the measure, said it is intended to protect women’s safety.

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 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.

The head of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, an abortion-rights group, said most Ohioans support access to abortion, which is legal, and lawmakers supporting such restrictions are out of step.

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

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