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Ohio bill would require in-person exam before abortion pill

Steve Huffman
Posted at 3:01 PM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 15:01:16-05

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio lawmaker has proposed legislation that would regulate the use of abortion pills, an increasingly common method of ending unwanted pregnancies.

Republican state Sen. Steve Huffman, of Tipp City, introduced the bill Tuesday. It follows a February decision by the Food and Drug Administration to lift a long-standing requirement that pills used in medication abortions be picked up in person.

The move made permanent a temporary waiver on in-person pick-ups that had been instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic for such drugs.

“That’s why we need this bill, to put current federal safeguards into our state law,” he said in a statement. Without them, Huffman said, “abortion providers will be able to diagnose and issue prescriptions to patients online, over the phone, or at school — and use the mail to send chemical (medication) abortion pills to patients.”

An earlier bill sponsored by Huffman, a practicing physician, that would ban the use of telemedicine for medication abortions has been blocked by a Hamilton County judge as a constitutional challenge moves through the court.

Huffman’s latest bill would require an in-person exam before use of an abortion-inducing pill, verification that the fetus is under 10 weeks, an ultrasound, fertility testing, a medical history check and state certification for participating physicians and pharmacies.

Abortion rights groups said medication abortions involving the drugs mifepristone, commonly known as RU-486, and misoprostol are widely used and safe, and that Huffman is spreading misinformation by characterizing them as “dangerous and deadly.”

Nearly half of all abortions in Ohio — 47% — involved mifepristone in 2020, according to the Ohio Department of Health. That’s up from only 4% in 2015, a period during which Ohio has passed a steady stream of abortion restrictions.

Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland called it “an ongoing campaign based on fear and misinformation to smear abortion providers and frighten patients.”