House passes bill that seeks to change “abortion-inducing” drug process

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By Collin Reischman

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — New legislation that could add additional requirements to the administration of RU-486 — known as mifepristone, or “any other abortion-inducing drug or chemical ” — was third read and passed through the House on Thursday, April 18.

Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Fulton

Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Fulton

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Fulton, chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, stipulates that any “abortion-inducing” drug or chemical be taken in the physical presence of the physician who prescribed or administered it. The bill also calls on the physician to make every effort to schedule a follow-up visit 12 to 18 days after the drug was taken to confirm the termination of the pregnancy.

The current medical standard of care calls for a woman to take the first dose of RU-486 in the presence of her doctor before returning home and taking the second dose 24 to 48 hours later. Typically, a woman is encouraged to return to the doctor seven to 14 days after the second dose to follow up. Riddle’s bill would require both doses be taken in front of their doctor, and require the doctor to keep “detailed records” of any follow up appointment.

“This bill is not about who will or who will not have an abortion,” Riddle said during floor debate. “It’s about a woman’s health and safety, plain and simple. A physicican who prescribes this kind of drug needs to take professional responsibility for the results.”

Riddle said “webcam abortions” were on the rise, and that women were reluctant to treat the symptoms of their chemical abortions because of the “sensitive” nature of the procedure.

“We have cases of women on a computer ‘Skyping’ with a doctor in a different city while they are taking this pill,” Riddle said. “That’s just not safe. It’s dangerous for the woman and allows her to be exploited, and it puts her at great risk.”

The bill is one of the only pieces of legislation from Republicans vocally opposed to abortion that deals with access to the service. While most proponents have argued that the bill is meant to ensure the health and well-being of the woman and protect them from abusive or irresponsible medical professionals, opponents say the new requirements could prevent women, especially in rural areas, from receiving treatment.

Rep. Jeanne Kirkton, D-Webster Groves

Rep. Jeanne Kirkton, D-Webster Groves

“A requirement to take the second drug in the presence of the doctor would have the woman traveling back home at a time when cramping, bleeding, chills, GI symptoms and delivery of the fetus my occur. That is unwise and unsafe,” Kirkton said.

“The American College of Gynecologists recommend taking the second dose in the privacy of your home,” Kirkton said.

The bill passed its third reading by a veto-proof majority of 115-39.

To contact Collin Reischman, email, or via Twitter at @Collin_MOTimes.