SALMON, Idaho - A National Organization for Women executive urged an Idaho state lawmaker on Wednesday to consult with his female relatives about anatomy after he appeared to suggest during a legislative hearing that pills swallowed by women traveled to the uterus.
The question of where pills may go after being ingested arose during testimony before a state House committee whose Republican majority voted to approve a bill that would ban doctors from using video teleconferencing to prescribe so-called abortion pills.
Republican state Representative Vito Barbieri asked a Boise-area physician who testified in opposition to the bill on Monday how colonoscopies were conducted by doctors from remote locations.
Dr. Julie Madsen said patients swallowed camera-equipped pills that captured images as they travelled through the intestines and the pictures were uploaded by doctors sitting at computer screens that could be hundreds of miles away.
Barbieri asked if camera-equipped pills could likewise be used to produce images of women's wombs.
"Can this same procedure then be done in a pregnancy? Swallowing a camera and helping the doctor determine what the situation is?" Barbieri asked.
Madsen replied: "It cannot be done in pregnancy simply because when you swallow a pill, it would not end up in the vagina."
Barbieri then responded: "Fascinating. That certainly makes sense, doctor."
The exchange did not make sense to National Organization for Women regional director Marian Bradley, who represents the women's rights group in states including Idaho and Montana.
On Wednesday, Bradley called on Barbieri and any other Republicans pushing abortion restrictions to confer with female relatives to clear up any confusion about women's bodies.
"Maybe they want to talk to their wives or daughters and learn basic anatomy," she told Reuters.
Bradley said Barbieri appeared to lack knowledge required to make sound judgments about medical procedures for women.
"I think his remarks mean he doesn't know enough to be responsible for women's healthcare decisions," she said.
Barbieri did not respond immediately to a request for comment late Wednesday.