Iowa Board Ends Abortion by Videoconferencing

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Doctors in Iowa can no longer use videoconferencing for distributing abortion-inducing pills.

The state's medical board voted by majority on Friday to end the system Planned Parenthood started in 2008.

The doctors, based in Des Moines, would meet with a patient through a web conference before she received the drugs. Planned Parenthood said the program benefits women in rural locations and that it's received no complaints from patients.

But board members say they had concerns about the process and the care women were receiving. They said the goal wasn't to restrict abortion access.

Board spokesman Tim Albrecht said in an emailed statement, "The board made this decision based on the standard of health care that women deserve."

Planned Parenthood said it's keeping its options open.

"We will not roll over and play dead," Planned Parenthood of the Heartland President Jill June said. "The health and welfare of rural women is too precious."

Planned Parenthood explained how the Iowa program worked. Staff members at the group's 15 remote clinics perform any necessary testing. A doctor then reviews the patient's records before talking with her over a videoconferencing system.

If the doctor decides the woman is a valid candidate for abortion-inducing medication, he remotely triggers a drawer to open in front of the woman with two sets of pills.

She then takes the first dose at the clinic and the rest of the pills later at home.

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