Iowa Judge Allows Parenthood Parenthood to Hurt Women in Webcam Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 5, 2013   |   2:22PM   |   Des Moines, IA

A judge ruled today that the Iowa Planned Parenthood abortion business can continue putting women’s health at risk doing webcam abortions while its lawsuit against the law continues.

In order to protect women’s health, the Iowa Board of Medicine voted to approve a rule which requires a physician to physically examine the woman before a chemical abortion, and indicate in her medical records the gestational age of the unborn child and the location of the pregnancy. The rule requires that the physician be present when the drugs are administered and that they schedule a follow-up appointment. If a provider violates these rules, the Board of Medicine can take away his or her medical license or impose other sanctions.

Last month, the Administrative Rules Review Committee, a bipartisan panel of both houses of the Legislature that has oversight of the agency rulemaking process, voted to implement the ban. However, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland requested that a judge delay a new rule on “web-cam” abortions and filed a lawsuit in Polk County District Court October 3 for judicial review of the changed made in late August by the Iowa Board of Medicine.

According to the Quad Cities Times, PPH “has 15 affiliated clinics that have used the telemedicine system since 2008 and have dispensed at least 3,000 pills since 2010.”

Now a judge has suspended the ban, for now.

Polk County District Judge Karen Romano ordered a temporary stay on a decision by the Iowa Board of Medicine, which effectively would have banned use of the first-in-the-nation system.

Romano expressed sympathy for Planned Parenthood’s argument that the medical board’s decision singled out the private agency’s system, which has similarities to other health-care providers’ systems. “With respect to the lack of an in-person meeting, it is peculiar, as petitioners point out, that the board would mandate this for abortion services and not any other telemedicine practices in Iowa,” she wrote.

Mark Bowden, the board’s executive director, said board members stand by their decision.

“The court’s decision to stay implementation of the rule perpetuates what the board believes is inadequate health care and treatment for Iowans who seek medical abortions,” he wrote in an email to the Register. “The board believes that a physician must establish an appropriate physician-patient relationship prior to the provision of a medical abortion. The physician’s in-person medical interview and physical examination of the patent are essential to establishing that relationship.”



Leading pro-life advocates say the webcam abortion process, where the abortion drug is given to women without a doctor’s direct supervision, hurts women.

“The physician never physically examines the woman, making misdiagnosis a danger as the physician may overlook the gestational age of the unborn child or fail to identify an ectopic pregnancy. The misdiagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy can be life threatening to the pregnant woman – if the ectopic pregnancy ruptures, she may bleed to death,” Americans United for Life attorney Bill Saunders says. “Most importantly, the physician is not present to intervene surgically in the case of an incomplete abortion, heavy bleeding, or other complications that are common in the use of abortion-inducing drugs. This dangerous practice puts women at risk—but it is a big money maker for the abortion industry.”

“Upholding the FDA protocol is a huge victory for women’s health in Iowa. Planned Parenthood will not be allowed to risk woman’s lives by recklessly giving them abortion-drugs without a physical exam from a physician, and women will receive the follow up care that is essential to their health and wellbeing and may save their lives. The Iowa Board of Medicine deserves applause for protecting women,” he said.