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Riddle bill would ban webcam abortions, moves to Senate

The Missouri House has passed and sent to the Senate legislation sponsored by Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, to protect the health of women who choose to use abortion-inducing drugs by outlawing so-called webcam abortions.

Riddle said the legislation approved in the House by a bipartisan vote of 115-39 would require a doctor to be present in the same room when the abortion-inducing drug is administered. The doctor also would be required to examine the woman before mifepristone (RU-486), or any other abortion inducing drug, is administered to her.

RU-486 was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in 2000.

“While it is tragic and heartbreaking when a woman makes the choice to abort her baby,” Riddle said, “we want to make certain she has face-to-face contact with her doctor and that she receives the proper care and information she needs when considering this procedure.”

Riddle said the legislation was prompted by women who use Skype or other online chat programs to visit with a doctor before taking the drugs, known as webcam abortions.

Webcam abortions started in Iowa where the abortion practitioner only sees the woman using the mifepristone abortion pill during a videoconference. The FDA recommends doctors visit in person with the patient.

“Here in Missouri,” Riddle said, “we want to make certain the physician is physically present and attentive to the needs of the woman as she uses these pills that do have dangerous side effects.”

Riddle’s bill also wants to protect the health of women by making sure the doctor attempts to be responsible for her continued physical and psychological well-being.

The legislation approved Thursday by the House requires physicians administering the drug to make all reasonable efforts to ensure the patient returns within 12 to 18 days after the administration or use of any abortion-inducing drug for a follow-up appointment with the doctor.

The doctor at that follow-up visit would confirm the termination of the pregnancy and assess the patient’s medical condition.

As a minimum, the physician must include in the patient’s medical records the date, time and name of the person to document his attempt to ensure that the patient returns for follow-up visits.

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