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Mont. House Passes Telemedicine Abortion Ban

Mont. House Passes Telemedicine Abortion Ban

March 18, 2015 — The Montana House on Monday voted 54-46 to pass a bill (HB 587) that would prohibit physicians from providing medication abortion via telemedicine, the Great Falls Tribune reports.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Keith Regier (R), would make it a criminal offense for physicians to administer medication abortion without being physically present in the same room as the patient.

Lawmakers Debate Bill

During debate over the bill, the state House rejected a motion from state Rep. Ellie Boldman Hill (D) to amend the bill to bar the use of telemedicine for vasectomies. She noted that there was no scientific proof demonstrating that abortion is uniquely unsafe for telemedicine compared with other procedures.

"We all know what this bill is about," she said, adding that it seeks to make abortion less accessible to women in rural areas.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Kathy Kelker (D) said that patients who receive telemedicine report high levels of satisfaction with the procedure. She noted that a nurse is with patients during the procedure.

Separately, Regier expressed support for the measure, contending that physicians who prescribed medication abortion might not know how far into pregnancy a woman is or whether she might have complications due to an ectopic pregnancy, according to the Tribune (Inbody, Great Falls Tribune, 3/16).