Iowa Supreme Court puts hold on Iowa law banning webcam abortions


By Dave Andrusko

Iowa Board of Medicine

Iowa Board of Medicine

As we reported last month, Polk County District Court Judge Jeffrey Farrell upheld a 2013 decision by the Iowa Board of Medicine which declared that Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s use of webcam abortions was unsafe.  Unless Farrell or the Iowa Supreme Court ordered another stay, Farrell said his order affirming the Board’s requirement that abortionists be in the same room as the pregnant woman would take effect 30 days after his August 18 ruling.

Sure enough, on Tuesday the Iowa Supreme Court granted a last-minute stay, according to the Des Moines Register’s Tony Leys. As a result, for now at least, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (PPH) can continue to use a system by which over 6,400 abortions have been performed since 2008.

The Court did this in the face of legislative opposition to webcam abortions (where the abortionist never is the same room as the pregnant woman), public opposition, and the unequivocal opposition of the Iowa Board of Medicine

“The people of Iowa have shown overwhelming bipartisan support for eliminating Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s webcam abortions,” Jenifer Bowen, executive director of Iowa Right to Life, said. “There are many wonderful uses of telemedicine, but denying a woman an exam by a trained medical professional and sending her home to hemorrhage alone for up to four weeks is not one of them.”

Leys reported that Mark Bowden, the medical board’s executive director, also expressed disappointment in the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling. “The extension of the stay perpetuates what the board believes is inadequate health care and treatment for Iowans who seek medical abortions,” he wrote.

In its September 2013 decision, the Board of Medicine required abortionists to see the women in person and perform physical examinations before dispensing abortifacients. “It also would require them to do in-person follow-up visits,” Leys reported.

In its lawsuit PPH contended, “The rule was promulgated solely for the purpose of preventing access to early abortion, and for no legitimate purpose relating to the health and well-being of Iowa women.” Not so, said the Board of Medicine in papers filed with Judge Farrell.

Lawyers for the Board noted that only physicians may provide abortions under Iowa law. “The board said providing abortion pills falls under that requirement,” Leys reported.

“Abortion-inducing drugs are not over the counter medications,” the state lawyers wrote. “Unless and until such a time when abortion-inducing drugs are no longer required to be dispensed by physicians, physicians must do so within the confines of the standard of care. The Board of Medicine determined the standard of care requires a physical examination prior to dispensing abortion-inducing drugs.”

The case is potentially hugely important for the Abortion Industry. Using a video-conferencing system (which PPH likes to call “telemedicine”), a single abortionist could “supervise” many, many times the number of women he could actually abort, were he to be required to be in her presence. The added revenue is staggering.

Responding to public concerns expressed in an Iowa Right to Life petition signed by 20,000 Iowans, and a formal petition presented by 14 Iowa medical professionals challenging the safety of web-cam abortions, the Iowa Board of Medicine met June 28, 2013, to consider new rules to govern the practice. The August 28 meeting, which lasted 3 ½ hours, was to give the public the opportunity to comment on the proposed new rules. The new rules were adopted a few days later on an 8-2 vote.