A judge heard the lawyers’ arguments Wednesday in a case involving so-called “webcam” abortion services in rural Iowa.
Planned Parenthood is challenging an Iowa Board of Medicine rule that will put a stop to medication abortions in which a doctor gives the prescription to the patient over a video conferencing system. Planned Parenthood attorney Sharon Malheiro said 10 rural clinics will quit offering medication abortions if the rule goes into effect November 6.
“If implemented, this rule will adversely impact the ability of women to have access to early, lawful abortion services,” she told the judge. “…The sole purpose that is to prevent women in rural areas of Iowa from receiving timely access to a procedure that is safe, effective and no different from similar telemedicine services which continue to be permitted.”
Deputy Attorney General Julie Bussanmus spoke on behalf of the Board of Medicine.
“The board set practice standards for physicians using abortion-inducing drugs to protect the health and safety of women,” Bussanmus told the judge.
The rule would require a doctor to conduct a physical exam of a woman before handing her the prescription drugs that cause an abortion during the early weeks of a pregnancy.
“While this is a politically charged and divisive topic, the issue here is not a debate on the policy of abortion, the politics of abortion, the court’s beliefs on abortion or the board members’ beliefs on abortion,” Bussanmus said.
The judge said she will decide by next Tuesday whether to issue a temporary injunction that would prevent the rule from going into effect until the case makes its way through the court system.