By Anne Marie Amacher
The Iowa Board of Medicine ruled Aug. 30 that a physician must be physically present to dispense abortion-inducing pills.
Halting “webcam” abortions was hailed as a victory by pro-life supporters who believe that pregnant women need to be seen in person by doctors.
Prior to this ruling, a pregnant client could go to an abortion facility in the state of Iowa and meet with a physician via video conference rather than in person. If the physician believed the client was a good candidate for a chemical or pill-induced abortion, the physician pressed a button that opened a drawer by remote control at the clinic. Pills inside the drawer were distributed by a clinic employee to the client.
Tom Chapman, executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference, called the ban on webcam abortions “a good decision for Iowa health. The ICC supports the rule. When abortions are taking place, the safety and informed consent of the women involved should be among our chief concerns. In every case, drugs that cause a chemical abortion have serious effects.”
He noted that chemical/pill abortions are still legal, but a physician must be physically present with the client.
After the notice is published Oct. 2, the decision will take effect 35 days afterward, which is Nov. 6, Chapman said.
The Iowa Board of Medicine held a hearing Aug. 28 in Des Moines in which pro-life and pro-choice advocates spoke.
Jeanne Wonio, respect life/pro-life coordinator for the Diocese of Davenport and a member of the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, said she was thrilled at the ruling. She said she followed the medical board’s hearing through her Twitter account on a mobile device. Questions asked by the medical board and responses to them were typed out so that they could be read on the mobile device.
Wonio believes this new rule will protect more women because they will not only have to be physically examined by the doctor, but see the doctor in person. A follow-up appointment also needs to be scheduled.
“Iowa Right to Life supports this rule and is pleased the board acted on the request submitted by a number of medical professionals earlier this year to adopt this rule,” said Jenifer Bowen, executive director of Iowa Right to Life.
“Iowa Right to Life first sounded the alarm about this method of abortion in 2008. Since 2010, over 27,300 Iowans have signed our petitions requesting the state end the practice of webcam abortion. It is abundantly clear Iowans stand behind the physicians requesting this rule and the Board of Medicine’s decision to adopt it. We commend them for acting today to raise the standard of care and protect countless women from this method of abortion.”
On its website, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland stated: “The Iowa Board of Medicine’s vote today to limit access to abortion will only make it more challenging for an Iowa woman to receive the safe health care she needs.”