Iowa Bill Targets Planned Parenthood Telemedicine Program

February 13, 2014 — The Iowa House on Tuesday passed a bill (HF 173) that would ban physicians from administering abortion-inducing drugs over video-conferencing systems, requiring in-person administration instead, the Des Moines Register reports (Noble, Des Moines Register, 2/11).

The bill passed 54-42 in the Republican-controlled state House, but it is unlikely to advance in the state Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Lucey, AP/Sacramento Bee, 2/11).

The bill would only affect Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, which has administered more than 5,000 medication abortions using a telemedicine system in which a physician video conferences with a patient at another clinic.

The House passed the bill as a court case continues over the legality of rules from the Iowa Board of Medicine that effectively prohibit PPH from using its telemedicine system to administer medication abortions. A judge in November granted PPH's request to block the rules while the case proceeds.

Bill Debate

During a nearly two-hour floor discussion, state House Republicans framed the legislation as a way to ensure patients' safety and the appropriate use of medication abortion drugs.

However, state Rep. Mary Mascher (D) reminded GOP leaders of their promise to not spend time this year "debating social issues like abortion," adding, "Please, honor that promise. Stop attacking women" (Des Moines Register, 2/11).