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Missouri to ban telemedicine abortions

Governor Jay Nixon (D-MO) said this past Friday that he will not sign or veto the latest anti-abortion legislation passed by the Missouri State Legislature and will allow it to passively become law on August 28. Missouri will become the eleventh state to ban telemedicine abortions.

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Nixon received praise for his inaction from supporters of the anti-abortion legislation who are saying the new law will better protect the health and safety of women who seek abortions. They said it is important for doctors to physically examine a woman seeking an abortion to reduce the chance for problems.

“It will also, we believe, save the lives of the babies,” said Susan Klein, the legislative liaison for Missouri Right to Life. “Whenever you are going to start a procedure that is going to kill the baby that is growing within the body of the woman, obviously you need to meet with that physician.”

But opponents of the bill contend that drug-induced abortions are safe and the new restrictions, like various restrictions proposed or passed in several conservative-minded states this year, it is another obstacle meant to make it harder for women to get abortions.

“This bill is simply another way for anti-choice legislators to stop the expansion of abortion, continuing to put burdens on women — particularly women in our state who have to travel very long distances to have access to abortion services in Missouri,” said Paula Gianino, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwestern Missouri.

How it works:

Telemedicine can improve quality of care by allowing clinicians in one “control center” to monitor, consult and even care for and perform procedures on patients in multiple locations. A rural primary care practitioner who sees a patient with a rare skin lesion, for example, can get expert consultation from a dermatologist at a center hundreds of miles away. A hospital unable to staff its intensive care unit with a single critical care specialist can have several experts monitoring their patients remotely 24 hours a day.

Telemedicine Abortions:

Women who opt for telemedicine abortions answer questions and review their medical histories with a doctor through a two-way video link while a staff member is there with the woman. The physician administers the drug using a computer to remotely open a secure drawer at the health center, and the woman is instructed to take the medication while under the supervision of the doctor and staff member. A second medication is given for her to take at home, and a follow-up visit is scheduled for within two weeks.

Who is using Telemedicine?

All 50 states now use videoconferencing for many surgical and non-surgical procedures. And all 50 states will continue to use this technology, including the eleven states that have a ban on its use for abortions. Those eleven states have no problems when videoconferencing is used in a heart transplant or other major or minor surgical procedures, they just have a problem with it being used for abortions.

The war against women continues, individual freedoms continue to erode, and as politicians continue to put themselves between a doctor and his patients to appease religious conservatives, a woman’s right to make any of her own health care decisions may someday be a thing of the past.

"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Mahatma Gandhi

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