Bloomberg News

Planned Parenthood Fights Iowa ‘Telemedicine Abortion’ Rule (2)

September 30, 2013

Planned Parenthood’s Iowa affiliate said it’s suing to throw out a state rule that would end “telemedicine abortion,” the practice of letting doctors remotely dispense pregnancy-terminating drugs.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland Inc. said today that the case was filed in state court in Des Moines. The filing couldn’t immediately be verified in electronic court records.

Under the existing practice, a doctor can electronically release the drugs Mifeprex and misoprostol to women pregnant for 63 days or less, after a video-consultation and after the patient has been checked for gestational duration, blood pressure and other factors affecting eligibility to take the drugs, according to a copy of the petition provided by Planned Parenthood.

The new rule would require the doctor to be present and perform a physical examination before the medicine is given, and it mandates at least one follow-up appointment 12 to 18 days later. Iowa’s Board of Medicine adopted the regulation on Aug. 30, according to the filing.

“If the rule goes into effect as scheduled on Nov. 6, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland will be forced to suspend telemedicine delivery for medication abortion at 15 health centers in Iowa,” the group said today in a statement.

Planned Parenthood said telemedicine abortion is safe and the new requirements aren’t medically necessary. The group is seeking a court finding that the rule places an unconstitutional burden on a woman’s right to an abortion.

“We just received the lawsuit and we’re reviewing it,”

Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, said in an e-mailed statement.

The case is Planned Parenthood of the Heartland Inc. v. Iowa Board of Medicine, Polk County, Iowa, District Court (Des Moines).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in the Chicago federal courthouse at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

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