Planned Parenthood of the Heartland which serves Iowa, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma has announced plans to expand “reproductive Health Services” via telemedicine at satellite Planned Parenthood centers around the state of Iowa.
“Telemedicine” is a relatively new concept in the field of medicine. It refers to medical checkups and procedures–including dispensing abortion-inducing drugs–carried out with a doctor via video conference rather than in person. A number of people colloquially refer to this as “webcam abortion.”
According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette the Planned Parenthood of the Heartland plans to offer birth control consultations, birth control method changes, and sexually transmitted disease testing. By expanding these services on video-conferencing systems in which patients correspond with doctors remotely, Planned Parenthood believes they can serve more people, especially those who live in remote areas.
The Iowa Board of Medicine voted in August to prohibit doctors from dispensing abortion-inducing pills through the video conferencing system, citing concerns over the safety for women.
Planned Parenthood will continue to offer telemedicine abortions until November 6, when the ban goes into effect. They will offer other telemedicine services after the abortion ban goes into effect. In the meantime, the possibility of a Planned Parenthood lawsuit challenging the Board of Medicine ruling has been discussed.
Arkansas has no prohibition on abortions performed via “telemedicine.” Arkansas Right to Life has warned that the day may come when a doctor in Iowa or Nebraska talks to a woman in Arkansas via video conferencing, and local Planned Parenthood employees provide the woman with drugs that will cause her to abort (miscarry) at home a few days later.
In the past Sen. Missy Irvin (R-Mountain View) has introduced legislation that would ban abortions via telemedicine, but the legislation did not pass.
Even if Arkansas does eventually ban telemedicine abortions, there is still the issue of Planned Parenthood using telemedicine to administer birth control and other “reproductive” services. If this type of telemedicine comes to Arkansas, one can only imagine how many women will walk into emergency rooms suffering from abortion-drug complications. Others, out of embarrassment, may just tough it out at home and suffer long-term health problems or even worse.
Jerry is the founder and president of Family Council. He began Family Council in 1989 after a successful effort to amend the Arkansas Constitution to prevent the use of public funds for abortions. He and his wife reside in Little Rock. They have four sons.