LINCOLN, Neb. Nebraska Gov. David Heineman signed into law a bill to prohibit "telemedicine," or webcam, abortions in the state.
The Republican governor's signature made Nebraska the fourth state this year to enact legislation to address the abortion industry's effort to expand its business through videoconferencing. Kansas, Oklahoma and Arizona also have adopted measures to prevent the relatively new practice.
The law, signed May 26, requires a woman using the two-step drug RU 486 for an abortion to take it in the physical presence of a doctor, thereby preventing a "telemed" abortion.
Planned Parenthood initiated "telemed" abortions in Iowa nearly three years ago and threatened to transport the technique to its centers in the neighboring state of Nebraska. As used by Planned Parenthood, a doctor in Des Moines or another city counsels by means of videoconferencing a woman seeking an abortion at another Planned Parenthood center in the same state. After he reviews sonogram images and visits with the woman, 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.
Heineman signed the bill into law only two days after the Nebraska Legislature passed it in a 38-9 vote.
"Huge kudos to the Nebraska Legislature for stopping [webcam] abortions before they get started in our state," said Julie Schmit-Albin, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life, in a written release.
Legislative efforts to protect the unborn did not fare as well in Minnesota. There, Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed three pro-life bills in two days.
On May 24, the Democratic governor rejected a measure in a larger Health and Human Services bill that would have prohibited human cloning for both research and reproductive purposes. In research cloning, the human embryo is destroyed, normally five to 10 days after its creation.
On May 25, Dayton vetoed two pro-life bills, one to ban abortions after 20 weeks' gestation based on scientific evidence a baby in the womb experiences pain by that point and another to prohibit state funding of elective abortions. Legislators fell short of veto-proof majorities in approving both measures.
Pro-lifers are "very disappointed," said Scott Fischbach, executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, after the May 25 vetoes.
"These are reasonable provisions, not extreme, and have overwhelming support from Minnesotans and legislators," Fischbach said.