Why The Iowa Telemedicine Abortion Ban Matters


The Iowa house passed a bill (HF 2175) last week banning telemedicine abortion in the state. Lawmakers passed the bill on a 44-42 vote largely along party lines after a two hour debate. The Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the League of Women Voters of Iowa, the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, the Family Planning Council of Iowa, and Planned Parenthood of the Heartland have all taken action against the bill. Here’s why.

Telemedicine allows a physician in a remote location to see and communicate with a patient using video conferencing technology, and, once prescribed, medication is provided at a local clinic. Erin Davison-Rippey, a policy analyst for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, explained that this is a safe and effective way to gain women’s access to health care. “Since 2008, more than 5,000 Iowa women have accessed medication abortion delivered through telemedicine, with zero serious complications reported,” she said. Despite these numbers, the House insisted that the procedure was “unsafe.”

“Clearly,” Davison-Rippey said, “this is a tool that is needed in the state of Iowa.” The ban, she said, “will ultimately put women in danger.”

Telemedicine abortion makes it easier for women who live far from a local clinic to have control over their reproductive health and plan their families. Women living in rural areas, for instance, are some one of the individuals who benefit from this technology – and the folks who, if the process should no longer be possible, will struggle to access the full breadth of their legal and medical reproductive rights.

Iowa women who are remotely located are now having their rights taken away from them. Taking away telemedicine technology will make it difficult for them to get the care they need. Reproductive justice should not be a luxury, and reproductive freedom shouldn’t be based on your location. Every woman needs access to abortion – be it through a local clinic, a hospital, or a computer screen.

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