Bill banning telemedicine abortions passes Iowa House


Doctors would be barred from dispensing abortion-causing drugs remotely via video-conferencing systems under legislation approved Tuesday in the Iowa House.

Lawmakers passed the bill largely along party lines after nearly two hours of debate, moving it to the state Senate for further consideration.

The ban will directly and uniquely affect Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, which maintains a video-conferencing system allowing doctors in Des Moines to interact with patients in outlying clinics and dispense pills that induce abortions of early-term pregnancies. Planned Parenthood has provided more than 5,000 abortions in Iowa since 2008 using the telemedicine system.


According to the news article, the bill is unlikely to pass the Iowa Senate, where the Democrats hold a two seat majority. The Senate Majority Leader apparently has stated that the bill will not proceed.

If the bill fails, then the focus will shift back to the courts, where an ongoing battle is being waged.


Never heard of “telemedicine”. Is it used for any other purpose but dispensing abortion pills?
I suspect not.


AFAIK, telemedicine is used mainly in rural areas, where medical specialists are in short supply. Its been around for more than 15 years.

Here is how the University of Arizona describes its telemedicine program, which serves seven hospitals in the southern part of the state:

Benefits of the SATT Program include:

Immediate and continuous access to trauma/critical care specialists at UMC
Greater ability to quickly recognize patients who require a higher level of care
Assistance to medical staff at referral facilities to prevent patient management errors
Post-discharge evaluations in a patient's home community

Whether telemed is ever used to dispense drugs, other than the Iowa abortion telemed, I don’t know.


In my experience, telemedicine is mainly used with poorer clients who are getting free or discount treatment. I do know that state-run mental health clinics often use telemedicine to provide psychiatric treatment and prescriptions to locations that doctors don’t want to travel to.


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