Medical professionals petition to stop telemedicine abortions

Fourteen medical professionals in Iowa are seeking to halt the practice of telemedicine abortions in the state, the Des Moines Register reports.

Based on a petition proposing new state regulations filed Tuesday, doctors would be required to perform a physical examination on a pregnant woman before they could provide abortion-inducing pills. The petition also calls for mandating a follow-up visit 12 to 18 days later.

The group, which petitioned for the rulemaking with the Iowa Board of Medicine, also asked to include a provision to notify parents if a pregnant woman is a minor.

The petition is aimed at discontinuing videoconferencing by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland for remote distribution of abortion-inducing drugs in Iowa communities, prescribed by doctors based in Des Moines.

The program, according to an analysis published last November in the American Journal of Public Health, increased access to abortion in rural areas, but didn't result in a corresponding increase in abortions statewide. After four years of the program, the abortion rate in Iowa decreased after women had access to telemedicine consults and an abortion pill, while the proportion of abortions performed for medical reasons increased from 46 percent to 54 percent.

A similar piece of legislation in Iowa--House Bill 173--aimed to restrict the service in March.

The 14 medical professionals include at least five Iowa doctors, according to the Register.

"We're seeing numerous benefits to telemedicine, particularly for our rural communities," surgeon Susan Beck said in a statement, according to the article. "However, webcam abortions fail to meet the minimum standard of care for patients to ensure their safety and well-being, and they should be stopped. Women obtaining health services in Iowa are entitled to a high quality standard of care."

The Iowa Board of Medicine has 60 days to either deny the petition or start rule-making proceedings.

To learn more:
- read the article from the Des Moines Register