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Planned Parenthood of the Heartland files suit against Iowa Board of Medicine requirement that abortionists be present with pregnant woman

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With an implementation date of November 6 looming, the mega abortion chain Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (PPH) filed suit in a local Iowa court challenging an administrative rule change that requires abortionists to be in the presence of women rather than communicating with them via teleconferencing—which is at the heart of so-called “web-cam” abortions.

PPH and its medical director, Jill Meadows, filed in Polk County District Court yesterday for judicial review of the changed made in late August by the Iowa Board of Medicine. (See “Iowa Medical Board Votes for Rules to Halt Dangerous Web-Cam Abortions”)

PPH also asked the court to issue a motion for a stay that would render the rule “to be ineffective during litigation.”

As reported in National Right to Life News Today the new rules mandate that physicians prescribing the abortion pill conduct a physical examination of the woman, be physically present when the drug is provided, and schedule a follow up to confirm completion of the abortion and evaluate the woman’s medical condition. This is decidedly not how web-cam abortions are currently performed in Iowa.

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 (see “Iowa Board of Medicine considering new rules governing web-cam abortions”). The August 28 meeting was to give the public the opportunity to comment on the proposed new rules.

Representatives of Planned Parenthood argued that the web-cam system was safe and effective and called the new rules “unwarranted, unnecessary,” and “restrictive.” But the more the board probed, the more they found evidence of troubling practices with regard to chemical abortions, web-cam and otherwise, at Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.

Two days later, on August 30, the Iowa Board of Medicine voted 8-2 to implement the rule changes, emphasizing that their concern was the health of women, not politics.

In its lawsuit, PPH argued the rule change was all politics. In a statement issued by Jill June, PPH President and CEO, June charged

‘It’s apparent that the goal of this rule is to eliminate abortion in Iowa, and it has nothing to do with the safety of telemedicine. The reality is, this rule will only make it more challenging for a woman to receive the safe health care she needs.”

No doubt in anticipation of the suit, the Iowa Board of Medicine issued a statement last Friday which said in part, “The Board believes that a physician must establish an appropriate physician-patient relationship prior to the provision of a medical abortion,” adding, “The physician’s in-person medical interview and physical examination of the patient are essential to establishing that relationship.”

Planned Parenthood’s sprawling Midwest affiliate introduced the web-cam abortion to Iowa in 2008. PPH has since metastasized. One by one it has swallowed up nearby smaller local affiliates. PPH announced a merger with PP of Nebraska and Council Bluffs in August 2009, another with PP E Central Iowa in December 2010, a merger with PP SW Iowa in May 2011, and in 2012 last year merger with PP of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma. It’s announced plans to open six new clinics in Nebraska and another six in Iowa.

For more background detail about the reasoning behind the Iowa Board of Medicine’s decision, see “Iowa Medical Board Votes for Rules to Halt Dangerous Web-Cam Abortions.”


Chelsea Garcia is a political writer with a special interest in international relations and social issues. Events surrounding the war in Ukraine and the war in Israel are a major focus for political journalists. But as a former local reporter, she is also interested in national politics.

Chelsea Garcia studied media, communication and political science in Texas, USA, and learned the journalistic trade during an internship at a daily newspaper. In addition to her political writing, she is pursuing a master's degree in multimedia and writing at Texas.

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