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June 17, 2011

House Votes to Create Separate Internet, Video-Conferencing, and Phone Systems for Abortion

Extreme politician uses an agriculture-related bill to tell women and doctors they can’t communicate about abortion access through the nation’s communications systems

Washington, D.C. – Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said House passage of a far-reaching anti-choice amendment to the agriculture-spending bill could bar discussion of abortion over the Internet and through videoconferencing, even if a woman’s health is at risk and this kind of communication with her doctor is her best option.

The amendment, offered by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), is the latest in his attempt to bar abortion from the system of telemedicine, a service Americans in rural or remote areas use to connect with medical specialists.

“Let’s start with the obvious: these politicians are so obsessed with attacking a woman’s right to choose that they’re using an agriculture bill to advance their agenda,” Keenan said. “This is the latest example of just how out of touch the anti-choice House leadership is with our country’s values and priorities.”

Keenan also said banning any discussion or reference to abortion over the national communications system would have profoundly negative effects on women’s health.

“What about a woman experiencing a high-risk pregnancy who is talking with her doctor through video conferencing?” Keenan said. “Under Rep. King’s extreme plan, if abortion came up in that doctor-patient conversation, the woman and her physician would have to go to a separate communications system. He’s calling for an abortion-only version of Skype. It is impractical, ridiculous, and, most importantly, bad for women in rural or remote areas who would not be able to discuss the full set of options with their doctor.”

Keenan also said that 87 percent of U.S. counties are without an abortion provider, making the notion of banning discussion of abortion between health-care professionals in rural areas even more alarming.

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