Planned Parenthood of the Heartland pioneered using telemedicine to perform first trimester abortions for women in rural areas in 2008. It has been a godsend for rural women and others who couldn't afford to get to a clinic to be able to have a safe abortion. In 2010, the Iowa Board of Medicine ruled that it was a safe procedure, and allowed the practice to continue. In addition, attempts to prohibit the practice via the legislature has failed twice, once in 2011, and again this year.
While states are curbing the use of telemedicine for abortion, demand for other forms of telemedicine—whether it’s for surgery, radiology, dentistry, or more—is exploding. Telemedicine systems are both convenient and cost-effective, and the federal government is one of their strongest proponents; for example, the Affordable Care Act encourages hospitals to lower readmission rates by providing virtual consultations for Medicare patients who make frequent trips to see doctors. “Telemedicine is used by about 10 million to 12 million Americans every year,” says Jon Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, a resource and advocacy organization. “That’s probably triple what it was five years ago.”And as for Iowa's use of it for abortion? -
Although one might expect that women would prefer a face-to-face encounter with an abortion provider, a study of Iowa’s telemedicine system shows that many women are happier with telemedicine. An evaluation conducted by Ibis Reproductive Health, a nonprofit research organization that prioritizes access to safe abortion, found that women who received a telemedicine abortion were significantly more likely to say they were satisfied with their experience than women who had an in-person procedure.But in the meantime, we elected the horrendous Terry Branstad as governor, and he has slowly and stealthily replaced all ten members of the Board of Medicine with anti-abortion zealots, who are re-evaluating the safety of the practice and have voted 8-2 in the first step to make the practice illegal. I have just found out about a public meeting to discuss their actions on Wednesday, August 28 in Des Moines.
This is the information that I have been able to find:
A public hearing on the ban is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28 at the Wallace State Office Building in Des Moines. The hearing will give anyone who’s interested a chance to speak on the issue before a decision is made. Branstad noted the upcoming public hearing specifically when asked to comment on the issue, noting that Iowans will have ample time to argue on either side.Also,
The public hearing is part of the rulemaking process that must be completed before the ban can be formally adopted. In addition to in-person testimony, interested people and groups may submit written comments to the Iowa Board of Medicine through August 28.Since I most likely won't be able to travel to Des Moines for the meeting, I intend to write and submit my comments before the 28th. I urge anyone else who wants to keep this innovative program going to do the same.