By Skyler Lee
On Thursday, December 13 the Michigan State House voted 62-47 in a party-line vote to extend the ban on telemedicine indefinitely. The ban, which was put in place by a 2012 law, was originally set to expire December 13, 2018.
Marketed as a great way to reach women who have limited access in healthcare, telemedicine is becoming ever more popular. In fact, who wouldn’t want to skip the actual doctor visit but still reap the benefits of one-- such as getting needed prescriptions?
There are two forms of telemedicine:
- When a doctor examines a patient via telecommunication at home. E.g. phone or conference call
- When a patient visits a clinic and has a conference call with a doctor who then opens a locked cabinet remotely and gives instructions to the other clinic workers to prescribe the drugs
While telemedicine is still rare, with only 15% of all doctors utilizing it for patient interactions, pro-choice advocates claim it is crucial in order for women in rural areas to acquire abortion pills.
“This was a preemptive ban that was put in place in 2012 and 19 other states have telemedicine bans for abortion,” Genevieve Marnon, legislative director for Michigan Right to Life, said during a Senate Health Policy committee meeting leading to a 25-12 vote. “These two drugs have a safety profile that needs extra precautions because of the severe side effects.”
The same proponents of increased access to abortion should understand the risk patients would be at if telemedicine for this procedure were allowed. Thankfully, even if they do not understand, pro-life legislators have officially voted to make the ban permanent, protecting women and babies in the state of Michigan.