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Iowa Abortion Adversaries Oppose Telemedicine

At a public comment session late last week, abortion opponents requested the Iowa Board of Medicine prevent Planned Parenthood from using telemedicine to administer abortion medicine. The Board did not issue a decision on the telemedicine issue, which remains under study, though an update is expected in December, according to the Des Moines Register. In June, Planned Parenthood clinics in Iowa introduced a program that enables mifepristone, a drug intended to terminate a pregnancy in its early stages, to be administered to patients while videoconferencing with their doctors. This practice, known as telemedicine, is designed to provide women living in remote and rural areas of Iowa with abortion services. In order for a woman to receive mifepristone via videoconference, she must first go to her local Planned Parenthood and undergo the required physical exam, blood test, medical history report, ultrasound, and counseling session, all administered in-person by a nurse. Women must also watch an eight-minute video describing the procedure and all possible side effects. If the woman decides to continue with the process, the doctor then clicks a button on his computer that releases a drawer containing the medicine in front of the patient. Still in the company of the clinic nurse, the patient then takes the mifepristone with her doctor watching and receives the follow-up drug, misoprostol, to take later. In May, the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue filled a formal complaint with the Iowa State Board of Medicine. The group argued that the video method did not meet the state law requiring medical doctors be present for the administration of the pill. Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said his group heard about Planned Parenthood’s system through an anonymous tip, reported 9News. According to Newman, his organization is offering a $25,000 reward to anyone who provides information that results in the legal conviction of an abortion provider.

Sources:

DesMoinesRegister.com 10/23/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 6/11/10

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