Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Barbieri: ‘It was rhetorical’

Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, whose question to a doctor during a hearing this morning on an anti-abortion bill about whether a woman could swallow a pill containing a tiny camera for a remote gynecological exam  – the answer was no – went viral and drew national attention, says the question was rhetorical and he was trying to make a point. “She was drawing a parallel between a colonoscopy and how much more dangerous it was than a chemical abortion,” Barbieri told Eye on Boise. “So, I was trying to draw out the distinctions.” You can read our full story here at

Barbieri said, “She made the point that you could swallow a camera and from thousands of miles away, you could detect the state of that colonoscopy. … My question was then, are you saying that you can swallow a camera and get the same results? Which is of course rhetorical. But she responded that of course you can’t swallow a pill and have it end up in your vagina. So my point was made. The point is that just because a colonoscopy is more dangerous and can be done from a distance, doesn’t mean that you can examine a woman at such distances, with a camera or anything else.”

Barbieri’s question and the doctor's response lit up social media today, and his Wikipedia page was briefly changed to include a snarky comment about what he learned today, though that was then removed. Barbieri, who said he adamantly supports the bill in question, adding restrictions to medication-induced abortions in Idaho to prevent them from occurring by telemedicine, isn’t fazed. “I was being rhetorical, because I was trying to make the point that equalizing a colonoscopy to this particular procedure was apples and oranges,” he said. “So I was asking a rhetorical question that was designed to make her say that they weren’t the same thing, and she did so. It was the response I wanted.”

Here’s the full exchange:

Barbieri: “You mentioned the risk of colonoscopy , can that be done by drugs?”

Dr. Julie Madsen: “It cannot be done by drugs. It can, however, be done remotely where you swallow a pill and this pill has a little camera, and it makes its way through your intestines and those images are uploaded to a doctor who’s often thousands of miles away, who then interprets that.”

Barbieri: “Can this same procedure then be done in a pregnancy? Swallowing a camera and helping the doctor determine what the situation is?”

Madsen: “It cannot be done in pregnancy, simply because when you swallow a pill, it would not end up in the vagina.” (Hoots of laughter from the audience)

Barbieri: “Fascinating. That certainly makes sense, doctor.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

Follow Betsy online: