A bill to prevent doctors from using telemedicine to provide abortion-inducing drugs has been introduced. But backers of the bill don't know of any cases where that is happening in Ohio right now.
The Executive Director of Ohio Right to Life, Stephanie Ranade Krider, says the bill would prevent a doctor from prescribing drugs to cause a non-surgical abortion via a computer-assisted consultation with a patient.
The percentage of abortions caused by medication has been increasing each year. About 30% of all abortions in the most recent Ohio Abortion Report furnished by the Ohio Department of Health were medication induced. When asked if doctors were prescribing abortion inducing drugs via telemedicine, Ranade Krider admits it is not a practice she is aware of at this point.
"To my knowledge, there aren't. There are already some pretty significant restrictions on how or when the abortion pill can be used," Ranade Krider says.
The Executive Director of NARAL ProChoice Ohio, Kellie Copeland, says abortion providers are always looking for better ways to meet the needs of their patients. She is also unaware of doctors using telemedicine to provide abortion inducing drugs. She thinks sponsors have a different reason for the bill.
"If you want to eliminate abortion access, if you want to stigmatize the procedure and try to threaten people with false information, I guess this would be a great reason to do that," Copeland says.
Ranade Krider says the Ohio Legislature needs to pass this bill to prevent telemedicine from being used to dispense abortion drugs in the future. She says Iowa passed a similar bill back in 2013 when abortion providers were talking about using it to serve more rural parts of the state that lacked abortion clinics.
The Ohio Legislature passed a bill last year that banned abortion around six weeks of gestation, when a fetal heartbeat could be detected. It was signed into law last Spring and was put on hold by a federal court in July. Other bills are pending in the Senate and House.
Abortion clinics in Ohio have found it difficult to keep their doors open in recent years. Clinics in Cincinnati and Dayton have recently fought with the Ohio Department of Health to keep variances that allow them to operate.