A District Court judge in Polk County, Iowa, has ruled that the Iowa Board of Medicine was within its authority when it voted to prohibit the practice of telemed abortion.
With his ruling, the November 2013 stay on the Iowa Board of Medicine’s rule is lifted. That decision is set to take effect in 30 days.
Telemed abortion is the webcam system that allows a doctor, who is often in another state, to dispense abortion-inducing drugs to an expectant mother. The webcam abortion plan was introduced in Iowa in 2008 by Planned Parenthood, as a test by the abortion giant prior to its taking the system nationwide.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland had sued the Iowa Board of Medicine, arguing that the board's 2013 decision to ban doctors from using its webcam system for abortidacients was merely an effort to inhibit rural women's access to abortions.
Telemed abortion has continued in Iowa throughout the course of the case.
Polk County District Judge Jeffrey Farrell ruled in favor of the board this morning, according to the Des Moines Register.
Farrell stated that the crux of the board’s decision to adopt the rule is that an in-person physical examination should be done before prescribing abortion inducing drugs.
“There are legitimate reasons to support the board’s decision,” he wrote.
While acknowledging that the rule would result in longer travel times and additional costs for some mothers who seek abortions, Farrell said that this did not impose an undue burden on women.
Farrell was clear in his ruling in establishing that the Iowa Board of Medicine had the authority to regulate telemed abortion.
“There is no question that the board has the power to establish standards of practice for the medical profession,” he ruled. “Those standards include the authority to adopt and enforce standards regarding the minimal standards of acceptable and prevailing practice.”
Pro-life advocates have criticized and opposed the practice of webcam abortion, because it leaves the mother to deliver her deceased child at home without medical supervision, despite the possibility of complications.
Iowa law states that an abortion must be performed by a physician, or a person licensed to practice medicine and surgery or osteopathic medicine and surgery.
In its September 28, 2013, statement on adoption of the rule establishing standards of practice for physicians who prescribe or administer abortion-inducing drugs, the board said the goal of the new rule is to protect the health and safety of Iowans. “When inducing an abortion by providing an abortion-inducing drug, a physician must be physically present with the woman at the time the abortion-inducing drug is provided,” the board said.
Planned Parenthood has contended since the Iowa Board of Medicine’s 2013 vote that the decision was political, citing the fact that Republican Governor Terry Branstad, who is pro-life, appointed all of the board’s 10 members.
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However Farrell sided with the board on the subject of rule-making, noting in his ruling that Planned Parenthood of the Heartland did not directly challenge the board’s compliance with the rule-making process.
“This is for good reason,” Farrell wrote. “Because there is no basis for belief that the board violated the statutory process.”
In this case, he said in the ruling, the board followed the rulemaking process established in the statute.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has stated it will appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court.