Wis. Senate Considers Bill Preventing Webcam Consultations for Abortions

December 15, 2011 — New legislation (SB 306) introduced in the Wisconsin Senate would require that physicians be in the room with women receiving drugs to induce abortion, thus preventing consultations via webcam, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Abortion-rights opponents at a state Senate Committee on Health hearing said that the bill is necessary to prevent physicians from being able to use webcams to consult with women about abortions, while critics of the measure said telemedicine abortions are not currently available in Wisconsin, and this is simply an attempt to restrict women’s access to abortion.

The legislation also would require a private consultation between the woman and physician 24 hours before the abortion medication is administered so that doctors can provide information and determine whether the woman has been coerced into having the procedure.

Critics of the legislation said there already is a Wisconsin law that requires abortions to be voluntary. Lisa Subeck, executive director for NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, said the bill is a "solution in search of a problem." She added, "This bill is not about patient safety and only serves to diminish access to women's health care. It is nothing more than a blatant attempt by its authors to chip away at women's access to their constitutionally protected right to choose safe and legal abortion" (Stein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 12/13).

Fredrik Brockhuizen, medical director of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, submitted written testimony to the Senate Committee on Health saying that the bill intrudes on the physician-patient relationship and interferes with medical decisions (Elbow, Madison Capital Times, 12/13).

The health committee has not yet scheduled a vote on the bill (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 12/13).