Telemedicine abortions to continue in Iowa


By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

Iowa’s four bishops and other pro-life advocates were disappointed with last week’s Iowa Supreme Court ruling that will allow telemedicine (webcam) abortions to continue in Iowa.

On June 19 the court struck down the Iowa Board of Medicine’s rule that prohibited webcam abortions by requiring a physician to be physically present when the medications are given.
In a letter responding to the court’s decision, Iowa’s bishops wrote:

“In 2013 the Iowa Board of Medicine approved a rule that required a physician to be physically present when abortion drugs are being provided, rather than pushing a button following a remote video consultation. The Iowa Supreme Court has decided the rule is invalid because the court believes it unduly burdens a woman’s right to an abortion.


“We believe the Board of Medicine was correct in establishing a minimum standard of care for such a serious procedure. While we oppose abortion because it takes a human life, when abortions are taking place the safety and informed consent of the women involved should be our chief concern. These abortions are not like any other form of telemedicine. The drugs provided have serious effects on the woman’s body in every case, including the loss of a life. We are hopeful that this decision will be appealed if possible.”

The statement was signed by Archbishop Michael Jackels of Dubuque, Bishop Martin Amos of Davenport, Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines and Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City.

Tom Chapman, executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference, said the court didn’t address whether the Iowa Constitution has a broader right to an abortion than the federal Constitution. He said it is assumed that the state Constitution contains at least the same right to an abortion.

In a statement online, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland stated, “We applaud the court for ruling to protect women’s access to safe, legal abortion. Medical experts opposed this law because it harms women by blocking access to safe medical care. When it comes to health care, politics should never trump medicine.”

Jenifer Bowman, executive director of Iowa Right to Life, said, “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.

“Obviously, as the largest pro-life organization in Iowa, it would be correct to say that we believe in the sanctity of life of the unborn, but we are equally concerned for the safety of born women. Tragically, for Iowa women and unborn babies, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled against both today,” Bowen said. “Dangerous webcam abor­tions will continue unchecked in Iowa.”

Vicki Tyler, executive director of the Women’s Choice Center in Bettendorf, also expressed disappointed with the court’s decision. “Truly the burden will be on her (the mother) for the rest of her life as she struggles with the decision she has made. Let us all continue to pray and seek God in helping women truly understand the precious life God has given them as a gift to be treasured and not destroyed.”

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