Saturday, June 20, 2015

Iowa Supreme Court strikes law prohibiting medication abortion by telemedicine

The Iowa Supreme Court struck down a rule on Friday that would have prohibited doctors from using telemedicine to dispense abortion-inducing pills to patients in remote clinics around the state, saying the ban placed an “undue burden” on a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. 
Planned Parenthood clinics in Iowa have been using telemedicine to provide medication-induced, nonsurgical abortions since 2008, seeing it as a way to expand access to women living in the state’s many rural areas. Under the system, the first in the nation, doctors in Des Moines, Iowa City and Ames have used videoconferencing to provide the service to more than 7,000 patients in seven clinics.
Meanwhile, Goodenough reports, sixteen states require physicians to prescribe in person the drugs involved in medication abortions.  Arkansas and Idaho will join those sixteen later this year.  For now, only Iowa and--to a lesser degree--Minnesota permit physicians to use video in prescribing such drugs.

Contrast this with the depressing news out of Texas, thanks to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Read more here, here and here.

1 comment:

Daniel Quinley said...

It is shocking that only Iowa & Minnesota allow telemedicine for prescribing abortion drugs. Using technology to bridge the tyranny of rural distance is sort of a silver bullet for all the woes that the urban elite project on the rural poor. For example--all of the distance learning degrees to help the rural populace join civilization and the modern economy (and that, I think, is a blog post in-and-of itself). And you would think that access to medicine would be right up there with access to education in using telemedicine: it is cheaper than paying a doctor to drive out. Especially in places like Idaho and elsewhere in the mountainous west, telemedicine should be a no-brainer. Minnesota & Iowa are big, vast, and empty; but also relatively flat. So while remote, access is logistically easier. When rough terrain is added into the distance equation, I would think something as basic as health care access would be the first industry to benefit from technological advances. Alas, there is far more going on than a simple realization that telemedicine can provide much needed services to rural woman.