Iowa Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Telemedicine Abortion Program

Iowa Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Telemedicine Abortion Program

On Friday, the Iowa Supreme Court upheld the demands of regional Planned Parenthood units, which provide abortion patients with the requisite abortion-inducing medications via remote video technology.

The decision that got the consensus of six justices said that the earlier rule that required doctors to be present in person violated the constitution and placed an undue burden on women seeking abortions. This was because Planned Parenthood had only three clinics and those too were located hundreds of miles apart.

Friday’s decision gives closure to a tiff that has been going on since 2013, between Planned Parenthood and the Iowa Board of Medicine, the organization that regulates the practice of medicine in the State. The contentious rule was passed in July 2013, calling for the physical presence of doctors when administering abortion-inducing drugs to patients.

However, Planned Parenthood, which had been administering telemedicine abortions in Iowa since 2008, sued the Iowa Board of Medicine in September 2013. But, to its dismay, a lower Iowa court ruled in favour of the Iowa Board of Medicine’s rule in August 2014. This made Planned Parenthood knock at the doors of the Supreme Court.

Finally, on Friday, the Supreme Court said that there was little evidence in the case that an in-person visit was medically necessary. It therefore, nullified the rule and allowed Planned Parenthood to continue with its telemedicine abortion program.

Meanwhile, the Iowa Board of Medicine maintained that it would assess and discuss the impact of the opinion at its next meeting, due in July.