Montana Public Radio

Kalispell Lawmaker Wants Ban On Telemedicine Abortions

Mar 6, 2015

Rep. Keith Regier (R) HD4
Credit Montana Legislature

A Kalispell lawmaker is trying to stop doctors from offering abortion by telemedicine, a practice that is not yet available in Montana.

Republican Keith Regier calls them “webcam abortions”; a woman meeting with a doctor over a remote video connection, to get a prescription to terminate her pregnancy. So far no clinic in Montana offers abortion services over telemedicine, and Regier wants it to stay that way.

"A woman sent home to abort by herself, with no examination by a doctor and no follow up emergency care, is not good medicine.  It is not good for the woman," Regier said.

Sixteen states already require a doctor to be physically present to prescribe abortion medications. Regier wants to adopt the same rule in Montana.

Opponents like Martha Stahl of Planned Parenthood say there’s no medically valid reason to stop abortion providers from using telemedicine in the future.

Politicians are not medical experts," Stahl said,  "and yet politicians have written this legislation with the end goal of having safe, legal abortion difficult or even impossible to access."

Stahl says in Montana patients often have to drive long distances to see their doctor, and the state should embrace technologies that make healthcare more accessible. Regier’s bill got its initial hearing today in the House Judiciary Committee, which will decide later whether to forward it to the House floor.