April 20, 2012 — Minnesota House lawmakers on Wednesday voted 80-48 to approve a bill (SF 2128) that would require doctors to be physically present when administering medication abortion drugs, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.
The bill targets a telemedicine program that Planned Parenthood launched last year to provide women in rural parts of Minnesota with greater access to medication abortion (Boldt, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 4/18). Jennifer Aulwes, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, said the enactment of the legislation likely would mean the end of the program (AP/NECN, 4/18).
The bill's supporters said it is aimed at ensuring women's safety. Opponents countered that the mortality rate from medication abortion is roughly one death per 100,000 women, which they noted is much lower than the five deaths for every 100,000 men who take Viagra. An amendment that would have required medical supervision of men using Viagra failed 95-28 (Brooks, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 4/18).