Roundup: Web-cams Increase Abortion Access in Iowa

Beth Saunders

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has been using telemedicine to increase access to abortion in Iowa, much to the consternation of Operation Rescue.

Web-cams aren’t just for chatting anymore. Women in rural areas of Iowa now have better access to early abortion care, thanks to a telemedicine program by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.  

Small Planned Parenthood clinics around Iowa are using a remote-control pill-dispensing system to make abortions available in areas where few doctors offer them.

The first-in-the-nation system allows a Planned Parenthood physician from Des Moines to visit with each patient by videoconference, then press a computer button to open a drawer in front of the patient, who could be seated up to 190 miles away. The patient then reaches into the drawer and withdraws the abortion pills.

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Planned Parenthood says its doctors meet that requirement when they dispense the abortion drugs by remote control, then watch via a secure communications system as their patients take the first dose of medication.

Dr. Tom Ross, a Planned Parenthood physician who uses the system, said he fulfills his legal obligation to oversee the abortion process.

“I do. Yes, sir. Absolutely,” he said. He’s confident the state medical board will approve of the system, which private lawyers vetted.


Watch how the doctor/patient interaction takes place.

Of course, the high-tech health care is not without it’s critics. (Oh, hello Troy Newman!)

Troy Newman, national president of Operation Rescue, said his group learned about the Planned Parenthood system via an anonymous tip. He said Operation Rescue receives many tips because it has offered a $25,000 reward leading to the arrest and conviction of abortion providers.

The group is trumpeting the fact that the Iowa Board of Medicine is investigating the matter. But the board’s executive director, Mark Bowden, said his agency’s response to Operation Rescue’s concerns does not imply any wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood.

“The board sends out notices to anyone who files a complaint, telling them that we got the complaint and we’re looking into it,” he said. Only about 7 percent of complaints to the board result in formal sanctions, he said.

Although, apparently, the system is nothing new. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland says it has been using the telemedicine system for two years, and about 1,500 women have used it to obtain an early abortion.

With 86% of counties in the United States lacking an abortion provider, telemedicine may be one answer for women in rural areas to get the treatment they need in a timely manner, without the unnecessary burden of traveling hundreds of miles to see a provider in person.

Mini-roundup: The eradication of small-pox, which led to its vaccine being eliminated from standard vaccination schedules, may have caused the HIV virus to blossom. According to researchers, “the smallpox vaccine appeared to cut HIV replication five-fold.”

May 18

Protesters Want Crist To Veto Abortion Bill – CBS 4

Groups On Both Sides Seek Clues About Kagan’s Views On Abortion Rights – New York News Today

A womanist culture of life – Washington Post (blog)

Nun excommunicated, loses hospital post over decision on abortion – The Catholic Review

Iowa Abortion Pill Controversy – KIMT

Kagan papers emerge amid questions on abortion – The Associated Press

Defunding Attacks Inspire Increase in Donations to Indiana Planned Parenthood – Conducive Chronicle

Senate backs ultrasound requirement for abortions – WXVT

The Sexual Manifesto: The Pull-Out Method – The San Francisco Appeal

Bristol Palin to hit the paid lecture circuit, speaking about teen pregnancy – Washington Post (blog)

The Pill turns 50. – Sonoma State Star

50 years of the pill –

Smallpox demise link to HIV boom – BBC News

Did the Eradication of Smallpox Accidentally Help the Spread of HIV? – Discover Magazine (blog)

Kenya youths ready for HIV vaccine – Daily Nation

Antigay Indiana congressman resigns after affair –

Eradication of smallpox may have set the stage for HIV pandemic, study says – Los Angeles Times (blog)

Malawian men who tried to marry face 14 years in prison – Independent

Smallpox vaccine ‘helped fight HIV’ – Independent

Bristol Palin to Earn Big Bucks on Speaker Circuit – People Magazine

Dads Get Postpartum Depression Just Like Moms, Study Finds – BusinessWeek

Postpartum depression hits as many dads as moms – USA Today

Poor sleep ups risk of postpartum depression – Ottawa Citizen

Cheating Congressman Mark Souder Once Lectured My Father on the Evils of Sex – Vanity Fair

Black babies more often screened for drug exposure – Reuters

Would you go listen to a teen mother’s talk? If she’s Bristol Palin? – St. Louis Post-Dispatch (blog)

May 19

States opting out of abortion plans – BP News

Head Nun Reassigned for Abortion Recommendation –

Liberals swing abortion wedge at Josée Verner – Globe and Mail

Hébert: No public appetite for abortion ban – Toronto Star

GOP gubernatorial candidates make pitches – Clovis News Journal

Phoenix Catholic doctors back bishop’s stand on Catholic hospital abortion – Catholic Culture

Pregnancy no longer a burden – Jakarta Post

Pill altered women’s lives – Press & Sun-Bulletin

HIV rates among Asian men ‘alarming’ – Democratic Voice of Burma

Pledge to stop mother-to-baby HIV spread – BBC News

Cervical cancer jab gets parental nod – Irish Independent

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