Republican lawmakers voted early Thursday to make permanent a 2012 ban against Michigan doctors prescribing abortion-inducing drugs remotely with webcams or other forms of telemedicine.
The prohibition is due to expire after Dec. 31. A bill that was passed on an almost entirely party-line 62-47 vote in the House would continue the ban indefinitely. The legislation will go to GOP Gov. Rick Snyder once the Senate takes a final procedural step.
The 2012 law includes a provision requiring physicians to conduct a physical exam of a patient wanting a medical abortion, which is when drugs are used to end a pregnancy.
They cannot use other means, including a webcam, to diagnose and prescribe a medical abortion. They also must be present when the drugs are dispensed.
Democratic Rep. Christine Greig of Farmington Hills criticized the bill shortly before the House voted during a marathon lame-duck session.
“This bill before us is nothing more than an attack on the health and safety of women who often may have no other alternatives,” she said, accusing supporters of “legislating their version of morality on others” and saying there is no scientific or medical reason to prohibit telemedicine-administered, prescription-induced abortion.
No Republican spoke in support of the legislation on the floor, but Right to Life of Michigan has said the restriction is not new and aligns with prohibitions passed in 19 other states.
“Women who want a chemical abortion can still access them in the state of Michigan,” Right to Life of Michigan legislative director Genevieve Marnon said last month. “This prevents people from Skyping with a doctor a hundred, thousands of miles away. If they have a complication, who are they going to follow up with?”