telemedicine

By Susan Tebben

Ohio Capital Journal

Abortion opponents were in agreement on Wednesday that the woman’s safety should be the focus of care in Ohio abortion cases.

Advocates spoke in support of a bill that would ban telemedicine as a way to receive abortion-related medicine, in particular the chemical abortion drugs mifepristone and misopristol.

Dr. Lindsay Rerko told the Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee that administration of “restricted access medication” should not be happening via electronic device, because of the risks medicine can have on a patient.

“If a physician is taking on the responsibility of administering this life-threatening medication, she needs to be present to deal with the consequences,” Rerko told the committee.

While the executive director of the Dayton Right to Life said telemedicine has its place when it comes to other medical needs, like ear infections, it shouldn’t be used in situations such as the decision to have a chemical abortion.

“Telemedicine takes this very important discussion between a woman and her doctor and minimizes it to just a face on screen, impersonal, exchange of information,” said Christie, who is also president of the Right to Life Action Coalition.

Barry Sheets, the legislative consultant for the Right to Life Action Coalition made his comments under the assumption that abortions, chemical and otherwise, would continue in Ohio, and thus, should be safe.

“Our coalition does not support abortion as so-called ‘health care,’ let me be clear about that, but we do support policy efforts to ensure that if abortions are going to be performed in Ohio, then every precaution is taken to prevent injury or harm to at least the pregnant woman,” Sheets said.

Sheets is a lobbyist that was consulted for a bill still active in the legislature that would require doctors to attempt to reimplant ectopic pregnancies. Many of the speakers at Wednesday’s hearing on the telemedicine bill said the chemical abortion drugs can cause severe side effects if taken when the woman has an ectopic pregnancy.

The FDA, which first approved the drug in 2000, has regulations for the drugs, called Mifeprex as a combination. The drugs are required to be ordered, prescribed and dispensed by a healthcare provider who “meets certain qualifications,” and says the drugs “may only be dispensed in clinics, medical offices, and hospitals by or under the supervision of a certified healthcare provider.”

The administration reported 24 deaths associated with Mifeprex between 2000 and 2018. In comparison, acetaminophen (Tylenol) was found to have caused 458 deaths per year in an eight year period.

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. Read more Ohio Capital Journal stories here.