A legislative committee this afternoon voted down an attempt to delay rules from the Iowa Board of Medicine that are scheduled to forbid so-called “telemed” abortions, starting a month from now.

“I am not a doctor,” said Senator Mark Chelgren, a Republican from Ottumwa. “I don’t pretend to be one, but I do respect the decision of this board on what they’re trying to accomplish.”

The legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee voted along party lines to reject a Democrat’s bid to delay the rules until January. Senator Tom Courtney, a Democrat from Burlington, said if doctors cannot prescribe abortion-inducing pills via a video-conferencing system, then doctors should not use telemedicine links to prescribe “terrible, big time drugs” to heart attack or stroke victims.

“I don’t see the difference, other than the fact that I won’t be having an abortion because 66-year-old men don’t have abortions,” Courtney said.

Representative Dawn Pettengill, a Republican from Mount Auburn who is chairwoman of the Administrative Rules Review Committee, told Board of Medicine executives the issue was emotional for her.

“I’m really happy that you’re doing this,” she said.

Jeanine Freeman of the Iowa Medical Society told lawmakers Iowa doctors are concerned the board is imposing a disciplinary rule written by a “silent author” and included in a petition to the Board of Medicine.

“We have no idea the expertise of the party that wrote this rule,” Freeman said. “We have no idea of what was considered in terms of writing this rule and its consistency or inconsistency with medical practice standards or other criteria that might be appropriate.”

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has filed a lawsuit, trying to get the courts to block the ban so Planned Parenthood doctors may continue prescribing medication abortions over a video connection. Sharon Malheira, Planned Parenthood’s lawyer, urged legislators to block the rule.

“There was no evidence submitted to the Board of Medicine that Planned Parenthood’s telemedicine delivery system is unsafe,” Malheira said. “In fact, the evidence is to the contrary and the new rule would cause harm to Iowa women.”

Malheira argued rural Iowa women will find it more difficult to obtain a medication abortion and be forced to wait to schedule a more complicated surgical abortion.  The Board of Medicine held a lengthy public hearing in late August and then the board voted in September to adopt the new rule, which will go into effect November 6 if the courts don’t intervene.

AUDIO of 54-minute discussion of rule during AARC meeting