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Administering abortion pill

Published (3/23/2012)
By Sue Hegarty
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For some women, access to counseling and having an abortion can be a problem, especially in rural areas. Some doctors have taken to tele-medicine practices to assist women in having a non-surgical abortion.

The practice matches doctor and patient, who are physically miles apart, together on a closed-circuit camera for consultation and instruction. The RU-486 pill is dispensed by remotely unlocking a drawer. The woman swallows the pill and then a second drug is taken up to 48 hours later that helps complete an abortion.

But complications and even death have occurred. Rep. Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers) sponsors HF2341, which would require the doctor to be in the room when RU-486 or any other drug or chemical used to induce an abortion is administered. The doctor would also need to encourage the woman to return within 12 to 18 days to confirm that the pregnancy was properly terminated.

The House Health and Human Services Reform Committee voted 14-6 March 20 to approve the bill and referred it to the House Civil Law Committee.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved RU-486 with the restriction that only a physician can administer the drug.

“In other words, the FDA believed that the drug was dangerous enough and the physician’s role important enough that RU-486 cannot be gotten at a pharmacy, but only directly from a physician,” said Jordan Harris, a legislative associate with Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.

Since its approval in the U.S., 14 women have died and more than 2,200 adverse affects have been reported. An estimated 8 percent of women will require a medical procedure to complete the abortion or to stop excessive bleeding.

“Women deserve better than a webcam abortion,” Harris said.

Dr. Jan Strathy said the risk is not when the pill is taken, but rather days later, so having the doctor in the room when administering the pill should not be required.

Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester) said the bill is an attempt to stop women from exercising their legal right to decide what’s best for their own bodies.

Awaiting action by the full Senate is a companion bill, SF1912, sponsored by Sen. Paul Gazelka (R-Brainerd).

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