Rep. Steve King (R-IA), the same congressman who thinks states have a right to ban contraception, has revived an anti-abortion bill that is destined to die in the Senate. King has reintroduced his bill to “prohibit federal tele-health grants from going to clinics and doctors who use video-conferencing technology to prescribe the abortion medication mifepristone, also known as RU-486.” So far, the bill has 47 co-sponsors.
The Senate killed the same proposal in October after the House passed it as part of an agriculture bill, so it is likely the same thing will happen again.
King said these “telemedicine abortions” help Planned Parenthood save costs by getting the same result as a surgical abortion, but “without the overhead costs.” But King said evidence is mounting that the morning-after pill, RU-486, is dangerous to women.
“Eight percent of women who take the abortion drug known as RU-486 require surgical intervention to complete their abortion,” he said. “This new practice leaves those women at grave risk and should never be supported with taxpayer dollars.”
The problem is that King’s view of telemedicine abortion services as a way to lower overhead costs is completely inaccurate. For one, Planned Parenthood officials have confirmed that abortion medication is a very small part of the telemedicine services the organization offers.
And studies have shown that medication abortions with a doctor connected by teleconference is safe, and it expands health care options for rural women who otherwise would find it difficult to terminate their pregnancies. And as states like Wisconsin block these procedures, researchers have found that there is no reason to restrict medication abortion services via telemedicine. Once again, King is using scare tactics to push for unnecessary policies that would hurt women’s access to health care.