Lawmakers in Minnesota are once again on the march to restrict women’s access to reproductive health care services. After first going after Medicaid funds for abortions, Republicans have proposed two more anti-abortion bills. The first would restrict the use of RU-486 and the other would require random inspections and licenses for clinics that provide abortions.
The bill targeting RU-486 prohibits doctors from monitoring via videoconference the administration of the drug for abortions. Supporters of the bill claim the drug is dangerous and therefore requires a physician’s physical presence to ensure it is properly and safely administered.
Opponents see this as another unnecessary attack on access to medical care, especially for poor women and those living in rural areas. RU-486 ends pregnancies in the first nine weeks and is associated with fewer patient deaths than either Tylenol or Viagra. Last year, Planned Parenthood Minnesota introduced a program where doctors at its St. Paul clinic videoconference with counsel patients in Rochester about medication abortions. Abortion-inducing drugs are then dispensed to patients from a locked safe in the Rochester exam room that the physician opens remotely. The physical presence bill would outlaw this program.
The other bill expands licensing and inspections requirements for businesses like game farms to clinics that provide abortion. Like other TRAP laws, these restrictions are designed to restrict the number of facilities that are able to offer abortion services.
Both bills will likely pass the Republican controlled Senate and House but will almost certainly be vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton (D) who vetoed other abortion-restricting bills last session
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