Physicians would still be banned from prescribing abortion drugs during a teleconference under a bill that passed Thursday.
The bill passed around 2 a.m. Thursday on a largely partisan 62-47 vote with one Republican, Rep. David Maturen of Brady Township, joining all Democrats in voting against the measure.
Lawmakers approved sweeping legislation in 2012 that would allow doctors to teleconference with patients on a wide variety of medical issues. The technology has become particularly useful for patients in rural areas who have limited access to hospitals and specialist doctors.
But lawmakers have banned doctors from prescribing abortion pills – mifepristone and misoprostol – during these telemedicine sessions.
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That part of the law was set to expire on December 31, but the House of Representatives vote extended the ban permanently. The Senate passed Bill 25-12 on November 29.
Abortion opponents, such as Michigan Right to Life, have backed the legislation as a common-sense restriction to protect the health and safety of women, who could experience complications from the abortion drug,
But proponents of abortion rights said the bill was just another way the legislature has continually tried to take away the reproductive rights of Michigan women.
“We should ensure that every woman has the freedom to access the safe and legal health care options she needs when she needs it and telemedicine expands access to health care to every corner of our state, which is extremely important to women in rural communities,” said Rep. Christine Greig, D-Farmington HIlls. “It doesn’t solve the ongoing shortage of doctors in our state. The only thing it does is push through barriers to the reproductive health care that women deserve.”
The law project – SB 1198 – now goes to Governor Rick Snyder for his signature or veto.