September 2, 2014

Panel lets proposed “telemedicine” abortion ban proceed (AUDIO)

A legislative committee’s tie vote this afternoon means rules that would ban so-called “tele-med” abortions in Iowa can move forward.

The Board of Medicine has proposed rules that would no longer allow doctors in Iowa to dispense abortion-inducing pills via a video-conferencing system. Dr. Robert Shaw — chairman of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s board of directors — said the Board of Medicine reviewed the practice in 2010 and decided it could continue, but since then Republican Governor Terry Branstad has replaced all 10 members of the medical board.

“This is a terrifying example of politics dictating health care,” Shaw said.

Kelly Larsen, a nurse who works at a clinic that encourages women with unplanned pregnancies to consider options other than abortion, is among those who signed a petition asking the Board of Medicine to take the action.

“I believe that this proposed rule is a necessity due to the risks that are imposed to the women if any side-effects were to happen,” Larsen said.

Larsen told legislators she’s fielded “multiple calls from multiple women” suffering side-effects after having a medication abortion. Shaw — board chairman for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland — told legislators none of the more than 3000 women who’ve had medication abortions prescribed by Planned Parenthood have filed complaints about the procedure.

“I cannot remain quiet about the medical inaccuracies being presented,” Shaw said.

Sue Thayer was the manager of a Planned Parenthood center in Storm Lake when what she calls “web-cam” abortions were first introduced.

“I had very serious concerns about that, the procedure,” Thayer said. “…I still have those same concerns today.”

Erin Davison-Rippey, a policy analyst for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, suggested the Board of Medicine is going beyond its authority since bills that would have banned the practice were proposed in the legislature in 2011 and again in 2013, but never became law.

“The legislature has had some opportunities to weigh in on this and has not,” she said.

Mary Purtle, an opponent of abortion, told legislators she is “upset” by the concept of tele-med abortions.

“It’s more of tele-death,” Purtle said. “…It’s taking the life of a healthy baby in a presumably healthy mother.”

The legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee has the authority to delay the rule, but a bid to do that failed on a tie vote this afternoon. The same arguments for and against the tele-med abortion ban will be made August 28 at a public hearing in Des Moines about the rule. After that, the Board of Medicine will again review the matter at one of its meetings and the rule could go into effect sometime around October 23, although legal action would likely follow to delay implementation.

Below is the testimony at today’s Administrative Rules Review Committee meeting, in the order it was delivered.

AUDIO of Shaw’s testimony, runs 11:16

AUDIO of Dr. Thomas Ross’s testimony, runs 35:17

AUDIO of Davison-Rippey’s testimony, runs 10:24

AUDIO of Larsen’s testimony, runs 11:18

AUDIO of testimony from Thayer and Purtle, runs 9:04

AUDIO of committee discussion, runs 16:50 

(FYI:  Representative Dawn Pettengill, a Republican from Mount Auburn, is co-chair of the Administrative Rules Review Committee and the voice you hear leading the meeting.)