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Planned Parenthood Sues Ohio Over Telemedicine Abortion Ban

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American Life League
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Flickr

Planned Parenthood has sued over an Ohio law banning the use of telemedicine for medication abortions, arguing that it's unconstitutional.

The organization asked for immediate relief in a lawsuit filed late Thursday against the Ohio Department of Health, the state Medical Board and prosecutors in the state’s three largest counties.

The law, SB 260, is set to take effect April 12. It would ban the administration of mifepristone via a telehealth appointment to medically induce an abortion. The law requires doctors to be physically present when their patients take the first of two pills used in medication abortions, and threatens doctors with felonies if they don't comply.

The measure passed with no Democratic votes during the recent lame-duck session of the legislature, along with another bill requiring the burial or cremation of fetal remains from surgical abortions. Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers sued to overturn that law, too, but a Hamilton County judge denied their request for a temporary restraining order.

Supporters argue a professional should be physically present to assure the woman's safety. But opponents say it is unnecessary hurdle to obtaining a safe, legal abortion procedure.

Planned Parenthood says it's used telemedicine for years to provide medication abortions. Spokeswoman Laurel Powell says that telemedicine helps them consult with patients when it's inconvenient or impossible for them to physically go in to see a doctor, and there's no medical reason for denying them that opportunity.

"This law is nothing but an attempt that makes abortion harder for people to access," Powell says.