Under the Golden Dome, Too – August 16, 2013

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It’s back to school time already! I can’t believe how quickly this summer seemed to fly by. With students and teachers returning to the classroom, the focus will shift from summer ball games and weekends on the lake back to academics and fall sports. Best wishes to our kids, parents, and school faculty on the start of a new school year.

Earlier this month, the Iowa Administrative Rules Review Committee (ARRC), a bi-partisan committee comprised of 10 members of the Iowa House and Senate, met to receive testimony on a proposed rule by the Iowa Board of Medicine to ban telemedicine abortions in our state.

Telemedicine abortions, also commonly referred to as webcam abortions, allow women in remote locations to take abortion-inducing medication that a doctor remotely administers during a video conference.  Via video conference, a doctor speaks to the woman for a few minutes, and without administering an examination or being there in person, pushes a computer button that opens a drawer in front of the patient.  The woman takes the first dose at the clinic and takes the rest of the pills at home, where she has an induced abortion.

In June, the Iowa State Board of Medicine voted to effectively shut down this practice in Iowa.  The State Board of Medicine is an independent board comprised of seven medical professionals and three public citizens, whose duty it is to ensure the practice of medicine in Iowa meets the highest medical and ethical standards.  The Board’s proposed rule to ban webcam abortions in Iowa was allowed to move forward earlier this month after a motion made by Democrats on the ARRC failed by a vote of 4-4 to delay the rule process by 70 days.

Everyone agrees that facing an unintended pregnancy is a very emotional event and women need strong support during that uncertain time.  Telemedicine abortions are a completely impersonal way of providing medical care to a woman during such a difficult time.  Both the woman and doctor need to be able to ask and answer questions in person, face-to-face.  Additionally, a number of medical concerns such as infection, hemorrhaging, and severe pain, surround this practice and can go untreated due to the lack of oversight and medical monitoring after the pills are taken.

Dispensing life-ending drugs with the push of a button that could also put the health of the mother in jeopardy simply should not be allowed to take place.  I commend the action of the State Board of Medicine and the ARRC.  Banning webcam abortions in Iowa is one step forward for the cause of life in our state.  The proposed rule helps put the health and safety of Iowa’s women and unborn children back at the forefront, where it should always be.

A public hearing before the Board of Medicine is set for August 28 in Des Moines.  Following the public hearing, the issue is likely to go before the ARRC once again in the fall, where final action will be determined.

As always, I appreciate hearing your thoughts, concerns, and feedback.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me anytime at linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov or 515-281-4618.

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