The Iowa Board of Health voted to ban the nation’s largest telemedicine abortion program last Friday, effectively limiting reproductive health access to thousands of rural women. The decision follows a decision in 2010 by Iowa’s Republican Gov. Terry Branstad in which he replaced all 10 members of the nonpartisan medical Board of Health with anti-choice advocates.

Iowa’s telemedicine abortion program allows women to consult with doctors through video technology before being prescribed the abortion-inducing pill and has been heralded as a safe and effective form of reproductive health care since its implementation five years ago.

According to Planned Parenthood, staff members at 15 remote clinics perform standard tests on the patients. A doctor reviews those records before meeting with the woman over the videoconferencing system. If the doctor deems she is a valid candidate the medicine, she is given it at the clinic. Patients report being just as satisfied after speaking with the doctor via video feed as they are in-person.

Since 2008, Iowa’s telemedicine program has helped an estimated 3,000 rural women obtain safe and legal abortions.

Media Resources: CBN 9/3/2013; ThinkProgress 9/3/2013, 8/29/2013

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