Georgia Senate committee approves bill banning access to abortion pills in the mail

Senate Republicans have advanced a proposal that would prevent abortion drugs from being sent to Georgian women.

The measure, sponsored by State Senator Bruce Thompson, is a response to the Biden administration’s relaxed pandemic rules that allow mail order medical abortion. The Food and Drug Administration made the change permanent in December.

Thompson, a White Republican who is running for state labor commissioner, handed over to a lobbyist from the anti-abortion advocacy group, Georgia Life Alliance, to explain the details of the bill on Wednesday.

the invoice was voted down by a Senate committee on Wednesday along party lines after an hour-long debate where public comments were limited to two minutes or less.

“This bill is simply to protect these women from the reckless actions of those who send these drugs to the women without ensuring that she receives the proper and necessary care to ensure her health and safety and that it is not compromised. “Thompson said.

Under the bill, doctors would be required to perform an in-person physical exam and ultrasound before prescribing medication to induce an abortion, which the bill calls “chemical abortion.”

The doctor would then be required to schedule a follow-up appointment to check for complications and then provide contact details for a second doctor who can help with any unexpected issues.

And providers would also be banned from dispensing abortifacient drugs, such as mifepristone, on college campuses and state-owned properties.

A controversial provision was relaxed but remains in the bill: the doctor can tell the patient that it “may be possible” to reverse the abortion drugs, which is an unproven claim that members of the medical community have disputed. An earlier version required it.

Failure to comply could result in civil penalties for the doctor, who would also be reported to the Georgia Composite Medical Board.

John Walraven, a lobbyist for the Georgia Chapter of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, urged lawmakers to focus the bill more closely on requiring an in-person exam before abortion drugs can be prescribed – which he said most doctors would prefer anyway. .

“We don’t need to talk about experimental hormone injections into patients in state law. We just don’t need to go there,” Walraven said, referring to attempts to abortion reversal.” This is an experimental theory. The only randomized clinical trial of abortion reversal ended when patients had safety issues, and they were bleeding and dropping out. the test.

“And we don’t need to give patients the phone number of a doctor they’ve never seen them and they don’t know how to call in an emergency. You are all codifying standards of care that are not found in medical practice,” he added.

Senator Michelle Au, a physician and Democrat of Johns Creek, said the provision on potential reversal of medical abortion “codifies and legitimizes pseudoscience in law.”

“I think it’s extremely inappropriate,” said Au, who also said she objects to state lawmakers telling doctors how to practice medicine.

Sen. Ben Watson, a physician and Savannah Republican who chairs the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, said the bill could change, but insisted the committee vote on Wednesday.

“No bill is ever perfect. It’s always like that, but we don’t want to let the good get bogged down in the perfect,” Watson said.

The bill will likely go through the Senate, where almost all Republican lawmakers signed the bill when it was introduced late last week.

We don’t know how it would work in the House. When House Speaker David Ralston, a Republican from Blue Ridge, was asked about the potential for more abortion restrictions during his pre-session press conference early last month, he said that he preferred to wait for the United States Supreme Court to settle a Mississippi case.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy could have implications for Georgia. The state’s 2019 law, which never took effect, would ban most abortions once fetal heart activity is detected, which is about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many women are born. know they are pregnant.

The court’s opinion is expected to be delivered this summer – after the end of Georgia’s legislative session.

Staci Fox, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, accused lawmakers of playing theater in the election year.

“This bill is nothing but a performative bill in the middle of an election year. Abortion has already been decided by this state. So there’s no reason for you to waste taxpayers’ money and time debating a bill like this,” Fox said.

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