Kentucky lawmakers took the first step on Tuesday toward more regulations on medical abortions, responding to the increased use of pills rather than surgery to terminate teenage pregnancies.
A Republican-controlled House committee has introduced a far-reaching abortion bill that would ban the mailing of such drugs. This would require an in-person visit with a doctor, rather than using telehealth, before undergoing a medical abortion.
The measure is part of a nationwide campaign by anti-abortion groups to limit doctors’ ability to prescribe abortion pills via telemedicine. Elsewhere in the South, the Georgia Senate passed a similar bill on Tuesday. It is now returned to the House for further debate.
The Kentucky bill would ask the state’s board of pharmacies to oversee the distribution of abortion pills. The pharmacy board would also oversee a certification process for pharmacies, physicians, manufacturers and distributors who administer or supply the drugs.
During the committee hearing, activists on both sides of the abortion issue spoke at length about the tiered measure, which will then make its way to the Plenary. The bill would still need Senate approval if approved by the House. Republicans have supermajorities in both houses.
The bill would continue aggressive efforts by Kentucky lawmakers to impose restrictions and conditions on abortion since the GOP took full control of the legislature after the 2016 election.
“We’re talking about the life of a human being – a baby,” GOP Rep. Bill Wesley said in backing the new bill Tuesday. “That’s today’s discussion. It’s not a ball of cells. It’s not a blob. It’s life.”
Opposing the measure, Democratic Rep. Pamela Stevenson said the state has thousands of children who need protection from abuse or need forever homes.
“Take care of these children,” she said. “And let women have the right to their bodies.”
Proponents of the bill said additional regulations were needed in response to a trend they called “mail-order abortion” and “big pharma abortion.” About half of abortions performed in Kentucky are the result of medical procedures, the House panel said. .
Nationwide, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted an increase in telemedicine and action by the Food and Drug Administration to allow abortion pills to be mailed so patients can avoid in-person visits for to obtain.
The FDA made the change permanent in December, meaning women can get a prescription through an online consultation and receive the pills in the mail. The move led abortion opponents to redouble their efforts to push for more restrictions on medical abortions through state legislatures.
Abortion rights lawyer Tamarra Wieder said Tuesday the Kentucky bill amounted to “government overreach.” It would impose “unprecedented state-level oversight on a drug regimen with a proven safety record,” she told the House panel.
“This bill builds on a long list of abortion restrictions, none of which are based on best medical practices and patient safety,” said Wieder, Kentucky State Director of Planned. Parenthood Alliance Advocates.
The measure would also impose new restrictions on the process by which a girl can seek permission from a judge for an abortion in cases where obtaining permission from a parent is not possible or could put the girl in jeopardy. danger.
The bill would also require the pharmacy board to create a complaints portal on its website. It would list the names of doctors authorized to prescribe drugs to induce abortions and pharmacies, manufacturers and distributors authorized to supply them.
Opponents have warned of the potential consequences of this provision. For abortion providers, the portal “would expose them to increased harassment and intimidation,” Wieder said.
The legislation is House Bill 3.