The Center, along with the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, filed a brief in the Iowa Supreme Court against a regulation that requires medically unnecessary, politically motivated, and harmful measures during medication abortions, which have been proven to be safe and effective. The regulation requires that a physician be physically present and perform a physical exam of the pregnant woman before providing a medication abortion. It also requires every patient to return to the same clinic for a routine follow-up visit. In doing so, the regulation would end Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s telemedicine program, which has extended access to medication abortion to women in more remote parts of the state.
A medication abortion via telemedicine allows a physician to talk with a woman via secure videoconferencing before remotely dispensing an abortion-inducing drug. A Planned Parenthood staff member is in the room at all times to supervise and provide support. The brief sets out why the regulation ending the telemedicine program will increase travel time and costs for rural women, increase barriers to care for women living in poverty, and endanger women for whom surgical abortion is contraindicated. The brief explains how the regulation will also potentially harm women in abusive relationships because of the barriers they face in obtaining an abortion. It also emphasizes that the Board implemented the regulation even though the telemedicine program is proven safe.