More Restrictions on Reproductive Health Move Forward in the House

Apr 5, 2011 at 1:44 pm
Not if the pharmacist doesn't want you to have them.
Not if the pharmacist doesn't want you to have them.
Today in Jefferson City, Missouri representatives added language to a bill that places more hurdles in front of women seeking legal abortions, in addition to fettering their access to emergency contraception.

The bill, HCS HB 28, first came before the state legislature as a so-called "conscience clause" bill, which would permit pharmacists with an ethical objection to abortion or contraception to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control or emergency contraception, which is a non-abortive method of preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex.

The bill was "perfected with amendments" by a voice vote on the floor today. The amendments place restrictions on women obtaining non-surgical abortions by taking mifepristone, also known as RU-486. That drug induces abortion when a woman takes one dose orally, followed by a second one 24 to 48 hours later.

The new wording of the bill would require women to undergo a physical exam 24 hours before the first dose and would require them to take both the first and second dose at the abortion facility or hospital. That's three visits instead of the one it currently takes. 

Additionally, RU-486 is used for abortion in an off-label manner. That means that, like many drugs taken every year, it's FDA-approved for other uses -- such as to induce expulsion of a fetus that died naturally in utero -- and not for abortion. But it's been used to facilitate abortions since its approval in 2000.

The changed language of the bill would require physicians administering the abortion pill to women to warn them, both in writing and orally, that the medication is being used in an off-label manner, using specific language:

"The drug or drugs that will be given to you to induce an abortion HAVE NOT been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the drug manufacturer to be used in this manner. There is risk to you and your unborn child if you take any of these drugs. Please strongly consider other alternatives to abortion before you take any of these drugs."

The approved changes have not yet been scheduled for a hearing, but we'll keep you posted.