This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) that would prohibit funds provided by an agriculture bill from being used for mifepristone, or “RU-486,” a pill that can terminate a pregnancy during the two months following conception. This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Agriculture Department programs.
King urged support for his amendment: “This is an amendment that comes and there's an Iowa focus on this that affects the whole country. We have had a practice that began experimentally in Iowa by Planned Parenthood of issuing telemed abortions by distributing RU-486, the abortion pill, what is also known as mifepristone, distributing it through a means of setting up a television monitor and it circumventing the requirement in Iowa that they be seen by a doctor. A doctor sits remotely on the other side of the Skype screen, so to speak, and interviews the potential mother, who if once she answers the questions that the doctor asks and they record it under film that they've protected themselves perhaps from liability, he clicks the mouse on the one end and it opens a drawer underneath the screen on the other end and out rolls the abortion pill, RU-486….This is a dangerous drug, and to distribute it through robo-Skype abortions--I'm opposed to it philosophically for a lot of reasons, but practical minds who might disagree on the abortion issue should understand that this government should not be paying for it.”
Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) opposed King’s amendment: “It's [RU-486] been a legitimate drug in the United States after it met all of the rigorous FDA [Food and Drug Administration] process in 1996 and has been available since 2000 in this country….It is legal and available in all 50 States in the United States, in Washington, DC, in Guam, and in Puerto Rico. It's a prescription drug which is not available to the public through pharmacies. Instead, its distribution is restricted to specifically qualified licensed physicians. To use it, a woman must go to a doctor's office. Whatever controversy surrounded the introduction of RU-486 in the United States was settled years ago, and there's no reason for this amendment other than to stir up the controversy over the reproductive rights of women. I think by the gentleman's comments, you can see that that's what he's trying to do. I would urge us all to oppose this amendment. And frankly it doesn't have anything to do with USDA [Agriculture Department] funds, because we don't do telemedicine abortions.”
The House agreed to this amendment by a vote of 240-176. Voting “yea” were 226 Republicans and 14 Democrats. 167 Democrats and 9 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House agreed to an amendment that would prohibit funds provided by an agriculture bill from being used for mifepristone, or “RU-486.” In order for this amendment to become law, however, it would have to pass the Senate and be signed into law by the president.