Telemedicine abortion ban passed out of committee, moves to House full vote

By: - December 16, 2020 9:53 am
woman receiving medical care

Female health care worker explaining medical records to young patient in office. Maskot/Getty Images.

A ban on the use of telemedicine in medication abortions passed through an Ohio House committee on Tuesday.

There was no discussion of Senate Bill 260 before the vote in the House Health Committee meeting, with many who would have testified in person avoiding the Statehouse due to recent COVID-19 diagnoses among legislators. This was also the case when the House passed a bill requiring abortion providers to pay for burial or cremation of fetal remains after surgical abortions.

But several opponents of the bill submitted written testimony prior to the House Health meeting.

Members of the National Council of Jewish Women/Cleveland, said barring access to telemedicine during a pandemic is “dangerous and irresponsible,” but also said the bill goes against their religious views as well.

“Jewish sources state that abortion is not only permitted but required should the pregnancy endanger the life or health (including psychological health) of the mother,” Linda Schlein and Stephanie Quaranta, co-chairs of the council’s reproductive rights and health committee, said in their written testimony.

Jim Tobin represented the Catholic Conference of Ohio in supporting the bill in submitted testimony on Tuesday.

“We do not believe any person or government has the right to take the life of an innocent human being — and we hold that the real problems that lead women to consider abortion should be addressed with solutions that support both mother and child,” Tobin wrote.

In a committee hearing on December 8, pro-life organizations supported the bill, saying the medication was too risky to use, and that the time and place to use telemedicine is not in the event of an abortion.

An “if needed” House session is scheduled for Thursday of this week. If the bill is not voted on in that session, the measure will have to be reintroduced in the new General Assembly, starting in January.

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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