Iowa Board of Medicine Votes to Halt 'Webcam' Abortions

Iowa Board of Medicine Votes to Halt 'Webcam' Abortions

While Iowa Democrat gubernatorial candidates were praying for abortion rights last week, the state’s Board of Medicine voted 8-2 to adopt new regulations that would ban “telemed” or “webcam” abortions, i.e., the practice of distributing abortion pills over an Internet video-conferencing connection.

Pro-life organization Operation Rescue reports that Dr. Greg Hoversten, chairman of the Iowa Board of Medicine, asked, “How can any of us possibly find that a medical abortion performed over the Internet is as safe as one provided by a physician in person?”

Fourteen Iowa physicians brought a petition to halt the practice of “telemed” and “webcam” abortions to the Board earlier in the year. During the hearings Wednesday, Board member Dr. Robert Bender and Planned Parenthood of the Heartland chairman Robert Shaw had this exchange:

Shaw refused to respond to questions about whether Planned Parenthood or he, in his own practice, solely rely on histories and exams conducted by employees with only a 10-week training certificate (CMA) to diagnose and prescribe medications to patients.

“This is about the basis of medicine. A history and physical is the bedrock that we all depend upon before we prescribe treatment,” Bender stated.

During a webcam abortion, the abortionist is not with the patient and performs no physical examination. In addition, the abortionist is not available to the patient in the event of complications.

Planned Parenthood first introduced webcam abortions in 2008. During this practice, an abortionist in one office briefly interviews a potential patient in another location over a video-conferencing connection, then remotely releases a drawer at the patient’s location that contains the abortion pills. The woman takes one pill in front of the webcam, then is sent home to self-administer the remainder of the pills. She is unsupervised as she endures the heavy, painful cramping and bleeding associated with the final passing of the pre-born baby.

In March of 2010, Operation Rescue investigated plans by Planned Parenthood Federation of America to expand telemed abortions into their clinics across the nation. However, 16 states then banned these types of abortions.

When Operation Rescue and other Iowa pro-life organizations initially opposed webcam abortions in that state, they were blocked by the former Iowa Attorney General and the Iowa Medical Board, composed, at that time, of abortion advocates. Since the election of Gov. Terry Branstad (R), however, the Medical Board has been completely replaced.

Operation Rescue president Troy Newman said, “We view this as a huge victory for the pro-life movement as well as for pregnant women who have been subjected to dangerous, substandard experimental abortion practices by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.”

The new rules could take effect in the fall, though Planned Parenthood could challenge the new regulations in court.