Lawmakers in the Kansas house approved a bill Saturday making a technical change to a GOP law banning telemedicine abortion care. Supporters hope the legislative “fix” will end an injunction imposed by a state court.
HB 2228 would amend current law regulating the use of medication abortion, and requires that physician be present only when a patient takes an initial dose of RU-486, or any drug used for the purpose of inducing an abortion. The change no longer requires a pregnant person to return to the physician’s office or stay at the office for the second dosage hours later.
The original bill would have mandated that when a drug is administered through the use of an intravenous (IV) drip or intravenous intermittent infusion and the “administration of such drug results in inducing an abortion, whether intentionally or unintentionally, the prescription for such drug shall be given to the patient in the same room and in the physical presence” of the prescribing physician.
Medication abortion is not induced by the delivery of drugs through an IV.
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However, any number of medications that could be delivered through an IV could “unintentionally” cause an abortion. Given the common practices associated with IV medication prescription, the practical effect seems to be that it would require a pregnant person’s attending physician to be present when medication was delivered through an IV.
The new legislative language requires that when “any other drug is used for the purpose of inducing an abortion, the drug or the prescription for such drug shall be given to the patient in the same room and in the physical presence of the physician who prescribed, dispensed or otherwise provided the drug or prescription to the patient.”
The bill, in other words, creates an exception to the requirement that the physician be physically present if the patient is at a hospital, where other physicians or nurses are on hand to deal with any side effects.
Reps. Annie Kuether (D-Topeka) and Carolyn Bridges (D-Wichita) were the only two house members to vote against the bill. Bridges said that she voted against the legislation because it infringes on the relationship between a woman and her doctor.
“I think when a woman needs to have an abortion, it’s a legal procedure, and I don’t think we ought to be messing with it,” Bridges said, according to the Associated Press.
The bill now goes to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.