Iowa Board of Medicine Hears From Opponents of Telemed Abortion Process
by Steven Ertelt
August 23, 2010
Des Moines, IA (LifeNews.com) — The Iowa Board of Medicine on Friday heard from a lengthy list of pro-life advocates opposed to the telemed abortion process. That’s the new procedure Planned Parenthood is using there to give women the dangerous abortion drug during a video conference instead of in person.
Iowans for Life director Maggie DeWitte submitted a letter to the Board signed by 57 local and national pro-life leaders asking for it to end the usage of telemed abortions in Iowa. (LifeNews.com has signed the letter).
More than 30 people came to address the Board on the topic of telemed abortions but the Board only allowed seven people to comment. It gave the seven speakers a total of ten minutes for their combined remarks and all of the speakers expressed opposition to telemed abortions, according to Operation Rescue, a pro-life group that participated.
Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue who filed the original complaint with the IBM, testified, as did former Iowa Health Commissioner Norm Pawlewski, who now heads Iowa Christian Alliance.
Jennifer Bowden of Iowa Right to Life, Monsignor Frank Bognanno of Christ the King Parish in Des Moines and registered nurse Michelle Locher joined them.
Attorney Tom Brejcha of the Thomas More Society in Chicago also testified.
"Telemedicine abortions are a clear violation of Iowa law, as an abortion can only be performed by a physician, and the drugs used to induce abortion can only be administered in a physician’s office," said Brejcha.
"We hope the Iowa Medical Board will properly honor the law of the state and public health will not be put at risk by allowing remote control abortions," he added.
Under current Iowa law, the performance of an abortion by anyone other than a physician is a Class "C" felony. Brejcha adds that "telemed abortions" flout the protocol for administration of the drugs approved by the FDA, Mifeprex and misoprostol.
The chairman of the Board, Dr. Siroos Shirazi, announced after hearing the arguments that the Board will take all comments into consideration and render a ruling, which could come at the Board’s October meeting.
Meanwhile, Iowa Congressman Steve King submitted a letter to the Iowa Board of Medicine expressing concerns about telemed abortions.
"On April 8, 2010, Operation Rescue filed a formal complaint with the Iowa Board of Medicine raising several concerns regarding this new practice of ‘telemed abortions.’ I share these concerns and urge the Iowa Board of Medicine to reject this unlawful and dangerous practice," he wrote.
During a press conference beforehand, the pro-life group announced Operation Rescue had filed complaints demanding criminal investigations of illegal telemed abortions in ten Iowa counties and has re-filed a request for a state audit with the State Auditor and the Iowa Insurance Commission.
"We received a letter from the Iowa Attorney General ‘s office that sounded more like a letter from a Planned Parenthood attorney than from someone who is sworn to uphold the laws of the State of Iowa. Because is it now clear that Mr. Miller is acting as an apologist for Planned Parenthood and an obstructionist in the process of enforcing Iowa law, we will bypass his office and go to the local authorities," said OR president Troy Newman.
The new complaint with the state attorney general names abortion practitioners Thomas William Ross and Susan Haskell, both osteopaths who are employed with PPH and are known to participate in the telemed abortion scheme.
The complaint lists five major areas of concern regarding telemed abortions, including a potential violation of Iowa law requiring that only licensed physicians perform abortions and that its remote dispensing practice for abortion drugs RU 486 and misoprostol ignores FDA protocols and are intentionally endangering womens’ lives.
The complaints also include allegations of criminal negligence and consumer protections law violations as OR says "evidence shows that Planned Parenthood intentionally exceeds manufacturer warnings and safety limits, and misrepresents to patients the actual failure rate of the medical abortion process."
They include allegations of consumer protection violations regarding insurance company overbilling and of patient abandonment "since the licensed physician only speaks with the patient for a brief time over an Internet teleconferencing hookup, and never interacts with the patient again even in the case of emergency."
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