ATLANTA – Women seeking an abortion in Georgia would not be able to obtain abortion-inducing drugs without an in-person exam by a qualified physician under legislation that cleared a state Senate committee Wednesday.
The bill targets mail-order prescriptions of abortion-inducing drugs authorized by the federal Food and Drug Administration last year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“These drugs were never intended to be provided without the direct involvement of a health-care worker,” Sen. Bruce Thompson, R-White, the bill’s chief sponsor, told members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. “These drugs were never intended to be delivered through the mail.”
Representatives of anti-abortion groups testified in support of the bill.
Katie Glenn, a lawyer for Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for Life, said an estimated 27.000 American women went to a hospital emergency room last year reporting complications from taking an abortion-induced drug.
“There are abortionists who are willing to mail out abortion-inducing drugs without ever seeing a patient, even on video,” she said.
“If we’re going to be a state that values life, we’re going to have to protect women,” added Mike Griffin, public affairs representative for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.
But several obstetrician-gynecologists spoke out against the legislation, arguing that medication abortions are safe and that to prohibit them would restrict women’s access to health care.
Staci Fox, president and CEO of Atlanta-based Planned Parenthood Southeast, accused Republican lawmakers of pushing the bill for political gain.
She said the measure is unnecessary because Georgia already has a strong anti-abortion measure on the books, a 2019 law essentially banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The law is awaiting a U.S. Supreme Court ruling before it can be enforced.
“Abortion has already been decided by this state,” Fox said.
The Democratic Party of Georgia issued a statement in advance of Wednesday’s vote criticizing the bill.
“Republicans’ latest anti-choice bill is a shameful, transparent attempt to place more obstacles between Georgians and essential reproductive health care,” party spokeswoman Rebecca Galanti said. “Georgia Democrats remain committed to safeguarding reproductive freedom.”
The committee passed Thompson’s bill 7-5, voting along party lines. It now heads to the Senate Rules Committee to schedule a floor vote.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.