Abortions by video conference being debated in Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Abortions by video conference being debated in Iowa


Abortions by video conference - are a real thing. They're formally called telemedicine abortions and they're up for debate in our state. The Iowa Board of Medicine will have a public hearing Wednesday in Des Moines to discuss the practice. A large crowd is expected to comment on this heated debate.

Sue Martinek has pro-life stickers on her family's cars and on her home. Abortion is an issue she feels strongly about. That's why she's the president of the Coalition for Life of Iowa.

"We are very passionate about respect life in all stages," said Martinek.

The organization has several events each year including forums and walks. They also pray outside the Planned Parenthood facility in Cedar Rapids.

Now, they're speaking out against what they call "webcam abortions."

"Complications could occur, that no one would be with her, there's lots of really bad things about the webcam abortions," said Martinek.

Representatives with Planned Parenthood of the Heartland say they began performing telemedicine abortions in Iowa in 2008.

"There is much medicine being delivered via telemedicine delivery system," said Jill June, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland President and CEO.

Like an in-person medication abortion, a woman has to undergo an ultrasound and talk with a trained counselor. The differences boil down when it comes time to take the abortion pill. At that point, she's speaking with the doctor via video conference. Instead of handing a woman the pills, the doctor opens a secured drawer remotely.

"There are not doctors at our health centers every day," said June. "We rely on nurse practitioners and physician assistants."

Advocates say it's just as safe as an in-person abortion, but opponents worry about complications in addition to their moral objections.

The Iowa Board of Medicine's public hearing will be Wednesday, August 28 at 1 p.m. in Des Moines. They'll discuss a new rule for physicians who prescribe abortion-inducing drugs. The board is considering a physician be present when a woman takes the pill.

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