A coalition of anti-abortion groups is calling on the Iowa Board of Medicine to shut down Planned Parenthood’s system of dispensing abortion pills via telemedicine in rural areas of the state. At a news conference today, Maggie Dewitte – executive director of Iowans for Life – read from a letter submitted to the board and signed by representatives from more than 50 groups. “The absence of a licensed physician performing a physical examination poses a significant health threat to the mother of the unborn child,” Dewitte said.
The president of Operation Rescue, Troy Newman, claims the telemedicine method of dispensing the RU486 pill puts women at risk. “There is no doctor-patient relationship. There is not physician she can call. There is no one she can go to in the middle of the night when she is hemorrhaging very badly,” Newman said.
The president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Jill June, says medical professionals test and screen all patients in the remote clinics and the results are reviewed by doctors in Des Moines. But June says that’s not the real issue. “The people who are opposing us, they oppose abortion, they don’t oppose telemedicine and they’re using telemedicine as a way to obstruct access to abortion,” June said.
June’s calling the Operation Rescue group’s effort to influence the board ill-advised. “They’re foolish actually to put political pressure on the Iowa Board of Medicine,” June said. “The Board of Medicine is a body that governs the oversight of the practice of medicine and is not subject to political pressure.”
The anti-abortion activists have filed complaints with county attorneys in 10 Iowa counties calling for criminal charges against Planned Parenthood. June says her organization’s telemedicine effort complies with state law.