Iowa Medical Board Adopts Rules Banning Dangerous Webcam Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 30, 2013   |   3:53PM   |   Des Moines, IA

The Iowa Board of Medicine voted 8-2 today to adopt a rule effectively ending webcam abortion in Iowa.

The webcam abortion practice started with the Planned Parenthood of the Heartland affiliate using it in Iowa, a rural state where the abortion business has a difficult time getting an abortion practitioner to each of its clinics. As a result, it set up a process by which the abortion practitioner only visits with the woman considering using the mifepristone abortion pill via a videoconference, as opposed to an in-person visit the FDA suggests.

With the drug having killed dozens of women worldwide and injured more than 2,200 alone in the United States, according to April 2011 FDA figures, pro-life groups have been concerned about Planned Parenthood putting women’s health at risk.

Leading pro-life groups lobbied the board to protect the health interests of women, who were subjected to non-physicians giving them the abortion drug at a time when FDA reports show at least a dozen women have been killed by it and thousands injured.

Iowa Right to Life first raised the alarm on the issue of webcam abortion in September 2008 and has since tirelessly worked to get Iowa’s policymakers and the Board of Medicine to end this grisly practice. This practice produces abortions with no direct physician interaction.  No doctor is physically present and often no follow-up appointments occur.

Iowa Right to Life has collected 20,000 signatures and counting of concerned Iowans, both pro-life and pro-choice, who agree that Iowa’s women deserve better care than what amounts to an impersonal, subpar, and dangerous system like webcam abortion.

“In 2008, webcam abortions began as a ‘first-in-the-nation test pilot program’ here in Iowa at Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, the largest abortion provider in our state,” stated Jenifer Bowen, Executive Director of Iowa Right to Life. “Yet, the truth remains-these chemical abortions are more painful, traumatizing and bloody for women, but far more profitable for Planned Parenthood.”

“For far too long Iowa women remain at risk emotionally and physically with these abortions that end days later, far from the clinic, with our young women delivering their dead child, alone.  We are profoundly grateful for these doctors and nurses standing up for the safety of our women and for the lives of Iowa’s unborn children,” Bowen concluded.

RU 486  and its companion drug are administered between the fifth and ninth weeks of pregnancy, after pregnancy has been confirmed and the process typically involves three trips to a doctor. About half of the women abort while at the doctor’s office, with another 26 percent having an abortion within the next 20 hours at any location at home or in public. The remainder either have an abortion in the coming weeks or none at all of the drug fails to work — making it so a surgical abortion is required.

The FDA reports 2,207 adverse events related to the use of RU 486, including 14 deaths, 612 hospitalizations, 58 ectopic pregnancies, 339 blood transfusions, and 256 cases of infections in the United States alone. A European drug manufacturer has publicly stated that 28 women have died worldwide after using RU 486/mifepristone.

Americans United for Life applauded the Iowa Board of Medicine for approving a rule dealing with chemical abortion submitted by 14 Iowa medical professionals. The rule addressed the increasing problem of administering dangerous chemical abortion drugs with minimal medical supervision.

“The abortion industry has been pushing dangerous life-ending drugs with minimal medical involvement in order to maximize high profits. But in Iowa, medical professionals stood up for commonsense against a brazen and reckless industry,” said AUL President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest. “Given the life and death issues at stake, AUL was proud to testify in favor of their efforts.”

The Iowa rule would first require a physician to physically examine the woman and document in her medical record the age and location of the pregnancy, because there are dangers involved with giving life-ending drugs to women with later pregnancies or experiencing ectopic pregnancies. In fact, two women in the United States are reported to have died from ruptured ectopic pregnancies after utilizing the Mifeprex (RU-486) regimen. The rule also requires the physician to be present when the drugs are provided and instructs the physician to schedule a follow-up appointment with the woman in order to evaluate her health post-abortion.



“These life-ending drugs are dangerous and the profit motive of Big Abortion is endangering women,” noted Dr. Yoest. “Pushing these drugs with little supervision is irresponsible.”

The Board of Medicine’s action came in response to a petition for rulemaking by Iowa medical professionals concerned about the 2010 revelation that Planned Parenthood clinics in Iowa were dispensing dangerous chemical abortions (commonly referred to as RU-486) to women without direct physician supervision. Instead, Planned Parenthood has the women “consult” with a physician through a teleconference or Skype-type interview. Termed a “telemed abortion,” the physician may not be in the same locale. Based upon an initial examination by someone other than the doctor and that brief conversation on-line, the woman is given the drugs. This is not only dangerous for women, it is contrary to the safety guidelines put in place by the FDA. The Board’s action came after careful consideration of the facts and a period of public comment.

The rule now moves to the Administrative Rules Review Committee of the Iowa General Assembly for review.