LINCOLN — A bill to prevent the use of telemedicine in drug-induced abortions advanced to the full Legislature Tuesday.
The Judiciary Committee's vote on Legislative Bill 521 virtually guarantees that lawmakers will face a second abortion-related debate this session.
The vote came shortly before senators took up second-round discussion on a bill that would ban most private health insurance coverage of abortion in Nebraska.
LB 521, introduced by State Sen. Tony Fulton of Lincoln, is aimed at preventing Planned Parenthood of the Heartland from replicating an Iowa program in areas of Nebraska that lack an abortion provider.
In Iowa, a woman can go to one of 16 clinics, get a pregnancy test, undergo an ultrasound and be examined by a nurse. The patient then talks with a doctor via the Internet on a private computer.
The doctor can remotely open a container to provide the patient with two medications used to induce an abortion.
Bill backers stepped up efforts to get the measure out of committee after the Des Moines-based organization announced plans to open six clinics outside Lincoln and Omaha.
The bill emerged from the Judiciary Committee after Sen. Burke Harr of Omaha decided to support the bill. Harr earlier expressed concerns about whether the bill would pass constitutional muster.