Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed one of the batch of anti-abortion bills this session, the one to prevent doctors from watching a woman by webcam while she takes a pill that, in a few days in combination with other pills, might induce a miscarriage in the first nine weeks of pregnancy.
It was pitched as the “telemedicine abortion” bill. Backers such as Sen. Missy Irvin, a doctor’s wife by training, said such a sensitive and gruesome procedure (taking a pill) couldn’t be adequately supervised except in person. This same legislature will soon approve a bill that will allow telemedicine in far more wide-ranging uses, but they won’t interfere with woman’s medical autonomy.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, which only half-heartedly opposed this bill — given the certainty of its passage — issued a statement:
“For years, women in Arkansas have watched as politicians chip away at a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions. Now, the Governor has signed off on Arkansas Legislators’ decision to ban an extremely safe medical procedure—one that isn’t even practiced in Arkansas at this time—in an effort to make sure a women there will never have the option of making a thoughtful decision about what is best for her and her family.
We’re extremely disappointed by the signing of this bill. How many hours this session have we watched our legislators debate the many ways to take health care options away from women instead of working to expand access to vital family planning and reproductive health services throughout the state? We support improving access to health care because it improves lives, and we’re calling on Arkansas legislators to do better for Arkansas women, men and families.”