Judge rules ‘webcam’ can continue pending judicial review

Tom Chapman

By Anne Marie Amacher
Iowa Catholic Conference Executive Director Tom Chapman expressed disappointment with a judge’s decision allowing “webcam” abortions to continue, pending a judicial review of the Iowa Board of Medicine’s decision to ban the procedure.
Polk County District Court Judge Karen Roman on Nov. 5 granted Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s request to stop the medicine board’s decision from taking effect. T
he Iowa Board of Medicine had ruled Aug. 30 that physicians must be physically present to dispense abortion-inducing pills is held.
Prior to that decision, a pregnant client choosing to have an abortion could go to a facility in Iowa and meet with a physician by video conference rather than in person. If the physician believed the client was a good candidate for a chemical or pill-induced abortion, the physician could remotely open a drawer to have abortion-inducing pills distributed by a clinic employee to the client at the clinic. The judge’s ruling allows that procedure to continue, temporarily.
“There is ample medical evidence that these (webcam) abortions are unsafe,” said Jenifer Bowen, executive director of Iowa Right to Life. “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.”
She noted that nearly 30,000 signatures have been collected over the past three years from Iowans who want webcam abortions to end.
Chapman said a motion to dismiss Planned Parenthood’s complaint against the medicine board’s rule pertaining to webcam abortions is still pending. Based on the judge’s Nov. 5 decision, it seems unlikely that the case will be dismissed altogether, he added. The court’s hearing on the rule is set for March 28.
“We were disappointed by the judge’s decision to stay (temporarily stop) the rule. We believe the Board of Medicine has every right to establish a minimum standard of care for such a serious procedure. Providing a drug that in every case causes bleeding and cramping, in addition to the loss of a life, seems substantively different than other uses of telemedicine,” Chapman said.
The medicine board’s statement on its decision to establish standards of practice for physicians who prescribe or administer abortion-inducing drugs to terminate a pregnancy (medical abortion), is “a must-read,” Bowen said. The statement “refutes all of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s myths about the safety of webcam abortions. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has tried to make this about politics, but the Iowa Board of Medicine made it about the health and safety of women, regardless of where they live.”
The statement is available at http://medicalboard.iowa.gov, then under new click on 9/27/13 “board issues statement on adopted rule ARC 1034C.”

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