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Ohio Legislature Passes Ban On Telemedicine For Medication Abortions

In this Jan. 14, 2019 photo, Caitlin Powers sits in the living room of her Brooklyn apartment in New York, and has a telemedicine video conference with physician, Dr. Deborah Mulligan.
Mark Lennihan

Ohio lawmakers have sent to Gov. Mike DeWine a bill that prohibits doctors from using telemedicine to prescribe abortion medication. SB 260 is the second bill limiting abortion that’s passed the legislature during the lame-duck session.

NARAL Pro Choice Ohio’s Jaime Miracle says the measure is yet another way to make abortion less accessible to poor women. 

“In the middle of a pandemic, when we are encouraging people to stay home and not travel, to pass a bill limiting access to telemedicine and further limiting access to abortion takes a whole new level," Miracle says.

Anti-abortion group Ohio Right to Life praises the bill, saying telemedicine should not be used for abortions. Supporters of the bill say doctors should see patients in-person when prescribing potentially dangerous drugs.

However, Democrats pointed out that lawmakers have not restricted other drugs from being prescribed via telemedicine. Planned Parenthood says it's used telemedicine for years to provide medication abortions, following an initial first visit to a health center.

Last week, Republican lawmakers passed a billrequiring the burial or cremation of fetal remains from abortions, but not miscarriages.

DeWine is expected to sign both bills into law. 

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.