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Planned Parenthood Asks Iowa Supreme Court To Stay Telemedicine Abortion Ban

September 2, 2014 — Planned Parenthood of the Heartland on Thursday asked the Iowa Supreme Court to stay a lower court's ruling that said the state Board of Medicine has the authority to ban the administration of medication abortion via telemedicine, the Des Moines Register reports.

According to the Register, PPH would be forced to stop use of its telemedicine system on Sept. 17 if it does not obtain the stay.

PPH's system in Iowa is the first in the nation to administer medication abortion via a telemedicine system, and clinics in other states have put off establishing similar systems until the legal issues are settled in Iowa, the Register reports (Leys, Des Moines Register, 8/28).

Background

Although the Iowa Board of Medicine in 2010 ruled that doctors at PPH could continue to dispense medication abortion drugs via its telemedicine system, Gov. Terry Brandstad (R) later replaced all of the board members, who then approved rules barring PPH from administering medication abortions through the system.

PPH sued, and a judge last November issued a temporary stay against the ban (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/20). Polk County Judge Jeffrey Farrell upheld the rules in August.

PPH's Stay Request

PPH on Thursday asked the Iowa Supreme Court to let its physicians continue to use the telemedicine decision while the justices consider its appeal of Farrell's ruling.

In its request for a stay, PPH wrote, "If this court does not grant a stay, the rule will make it impossible for [PPH physicians] to provide abortion services at seven out of nine clinics where they provided them until today."

The organization added that women seeking abortion care "will have to travel up to more than 500 miles round trip, multiple times, to Des Moines or Iowa City, the only two cities with clinics where a physician is present" (Des Moines Register, 8/28).