Iowa Supreme Court Overturns Ban on Dangerous Webcam Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 19, 2015   |   11:23AM   |   Washington, DC

The Iowa Supreme Court today overturned the state’s ban on webcam abortions after the nation’s biggest abortion business took a provision to protect the health ad safety of women to court in a lawsuit.

In 2013, the Iowa Board of Medicine issued administrative regulations that required physicians to perform in-person physical examinations on women before prescribing the abortion pills. This essentially banned the webcam abortion practice in Iowa.

Previously, a judge upheld a pro-life Iowa rule that banned the dangerous practice of telemed abortions. A telemedicine abortion is when a woman is prescribed medication that induces an abortion without seeing a doctor in person.

The rule would require that women seeking an abortion be in the presence of a physician when receiving the pills. It also outlines disciplinary procedures to be taken should a physician violate the terms of the bill, which can include the revocation of a doctor’s license.

The rule was necessary because the Planned Parenthood abortion business was putting women’s lives and health at risk by denying them an opportunity to visit with a physician in-person, as recommended by the FDA. The abortion drug has killed over a dozen women world wide and inured thousands more.

Polk County District Judge Jeffrey Farrell ruled that the Iowa Board of Medicine was acting within its proper authority when it banned the use of Planned Parenthood’s experimental “Webcam” abortion pill distribution process. This ruling will allow the implementation and enforcement of the webcam abortion ban in 30 days.

Abortion backers appealed the ruling and the state Supreme Court issued its ruling today:

The Iowa Supreme Court has struck down a restriction that would have prevented doctors from administering abortion-inducing pills remotely via video teleconferencing, saying it would have placed an undue burden on a woman’s right to get an abortion.

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Planned Parenthood’s local affiliate, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, had sued the Iowa Board of Medicine over its 2013 decision that would have required a doctor to be in the room with a patient when dispensing abortion-inducing medication.

The board cited safety concerns when it passed the rule requiring a physical examination, but Planned Parenthood and other critics said it was just another attempt by abortion rights opponents to make it harder for women to get abortions. They said the Iowa board’s restriction particularly would have made it harder for women in more rural areas who don’t live near the few urban clinics where doctors who perform abortions are based.

The court agreed with Planned Parenthood’s argument that the rule would have placed an unconstitutional burden on women by requiring a doctor’s physical presence in the room.

“Because the Board agrees the Iowa Constitution protects a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy to the same extent as the United States Constitution, we find the rule violates the Iowa Constitution,” the justices wrote.

The Court found that requiring an in-person physical examination prior to dispensing two abortion-inducing drugs posed an “undue burden” on Iowa women, who would be required to travel farther to get an abortion under the regulations. It also ruled for the first time that a woman’s “right” to an abortion exists in the Iowa Constitution.

Jenifer Bowen, Executive Director of Iowa Right to Life, told she is not happy about the ruling and that the court has left women’s health and safety in doubt.

“There is ample medical evidence that these abortions are unsafe. The FDA has documented 2,207 adverse events in the U.S. of women who have had medical abortions, including 14 deaths, 612 hospitalizations, 339 cases where blood loss was so great the woman needed a transfusion, 256 infections and 58 ectopic pregnancies.  Women who died from medical abortions died from a bacterial infection like toxic shock, hemorrhaging to death, ruptured ectopic pregnancy and massive heart attack,” she said.

“For these reasons, as we’ve previously reported, Iowans do not want webcam abortions.  In recent years, polling done by both the Des Moines Register and the University of Iowa showed more than 66% of Iowans are against webcam abortions,” she added. “We are certainly devastated by the decision by the Iowa Supreme Court, but absolutely will not relent in our pursuit of seeing all lives, born and unborn protected to the fullest extent.”

Other pro-life groups are also disappointed.

“The Iowa Supreme Court has chosen to protect the profits of abortionists over the lives of women and their babies,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “It is an unconscionable decision that also undermines the authority of the Iowa Board of Medicine to enact safety regulations when it comes to abortion, setting a dangerous precedent that is guaranteed to result in lost lives.”

Newman said that, while Planned Parenthood claims there have been no reported complications from webcam abortions, there is no reporting mechanism in place. Medication abortions carry a failure rate of 45-79 per 1000 women, according to the FDA.

“In the 7,000 webcam abortions Planned Parenthood claims to have done since 2008, we should reasonably expect between 300 and 550 complications according to the FDA statistics,” said Newman. “Planned Parenthood’s claims that there have been no reported complications have no credibility whatsoever. This is really a case of ‘See No Evil, Hear No Evil’ for the purpose of financial gain. We must continue to fight to protect women and children from this dangerous scheme.”

Leading pro-life groups have worked overtime to inform the state of Iowa about the problems associated with dangerous telemed abortions.

“Over the last six years, we have worked tirelessly to educate Iowans about this dangerous practice that risks the health of women all over Iowa,” stated Jenifer Bowen, Executive Director of Iowa Right to Life. “While the plaintiffs have vowed to appeal this common-sense decision, we know having reviewed the Iowa Board of Medicine’s rationale behind the rule at question in the case and after hearing from women who have suffered complications and negative effects of the procedure, a ban on the practice was the only logical outcome in this case.”

A total of 19 states have webcam abortion bans.