WASHINGTON, D.C. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure barring funding for the abortion drug RU 486, including its use in "telemedicine," or Webcam, abortions.
Members of the House voted 240-176 for the amendment, which was attached to a spending bill for the Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration and related agencies. The House approved the overall spending bill in a 217-203 roll call June 16.
The pro-life amendment, sponsored by Rep. Steve King, R.-Iowa, prohibits any money granted in the bill from being used for the two-step abortion drug. It takes particular aim at "telemed" abortion, a method developed by Planned Parenthood in Iowa to dispense RU 486 to a woman by means of videoconferencing.
As used by Planned Parenthood for nearly three years, a doctor in Des Moines or another Iowa city assists via videoconferencing a woman seeking an abortion at another Planned Parenthood center in the state. After he reviews sonogram images and visits with the woman by means of videoconferencing, the physician can dispense the two-step abortion drug to her by pressing a computer button, thereby opening a drawer from which the woman in the remote clinic may remove the pills.
King's amendment clarifies that "telemedicine" grants may not be used to disburse the abortion drug, according to his office. About 1,900 "telemed" abortions using RU 486 have been performed in Iowa, King's office reported.
"American taxpayers should not be asked to subsidize abortions, and federal telemedicine grants should not be used to enable abortion providers like Planned Parenthood to dispense the RU 486 abortion drug," King said in a written statement.