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Utah senators were unanimous Wednesday in their preliminary approval for a bill that promotes the use of telemedicine within the state.
Without debate, senators voted 27-0 for HB154, which largely deals with reimbursement models for physicians using telecommunications to deliver health care remotely.
The bill is best known for what it doesn't do, as its original language included a provision banning the prescription of abortion-inducing medication through telehealth services.
That prohibition was removed by a Senate committee, with members arguing that the abortion element injected controversy and potential legal liabilities into what is otherwise a consensus effort.
The bill's Senate sponsor, Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, said Wednesday there was not a need to reintroduce the abortion language. He said it was his understanding that the remote prescription of abortion medication is already prohibited.
"I am told by a very reliable source sitting next to me [Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem] that is already illegal," Christensen said. "That can not be prescribed unless it is in-person and a doctor is present."
During debate of the bill in the Utah House earlier this month, Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, attempted to remove the abortion language from the bill. Her amendment failed, and the House approved HB154, with the abortion restriction intact, in a 56-15 vote.
The Senate's version, if approved by an additional vote of that body, would require approval by the House for final passage.