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House approves bill to regulate abortion pills

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 29, 2013 at 5:32 pm •  Published: March 29, 2013

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi lawmakers are likely to approve a bill requiring a doctor to personally oversee the administration of abortion-inducing drugs and requiring the woman to return for a follow-up exam two weeks later.

The House voted 84-30 Friday to approve a House-Senate compromise on Senate Bill 2795. If the Senate approves, it would go to Gov. Phil Bryant for his signature.

The bill would bar physicians from prescribing the drugs remotely after consulting a patient by teleconference. Abortion foes have said they knew of no such telemedicine abortions being conducted in Mississippi, but wanted to guard against the practice.

The effort to more closely regulate the drugs mirrors efforts by anti-abortion forces in a number of states. Most significantly, in Ohio, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has approved most of that state's law that contains similar restrictions.

The compromise broadened the bill from including just the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol. Instead it covers all chemically induced abortions.

It also changed earlier language that would have required another visit to take misoprostol, which induces contractions after mifepristone aborts a fetus. The bill also didn't narrow the window for prescriptions to the first seven weeks of pregnancy. Now, the limit is typically nine weeks. The bill originally said physicians could only prescribe the drugs according to FDA directions. Under the current proposal doctors can still give off-label instructions if they meet the generally accepted "standard of care."

Only a physician could prescribe the drugs under the proposal, cutting the ability of nurse practitioners to prescribe. The physician would have to report every prescription to the state Department of Health and report every "adverse event" to the FDA.

Some anti-abortion House members were displeased with the compromise. Rep. Rita Martinson, R-Madison, said Friday she wanted women to have to visit a doctor in person to take misoprostol to guard against excessive bleeding.

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