In an 8-2 vote, the Iowa Board of Medicine adopted new rules Aug. 30 that require doctors to meet in person with women before giving them abortion drugs, thereby prohibiting "telemedicine" abortions.
Planned Parenthood pioneered the video-conferencing system of abortion services in Iowa in 2008. More than 3,000 abortions have been performed in the state since then, according to The Des Moines Register.
The Iowa "telemed" system has involved a doctor in Des Moines or another city videoconferencing patients in a Planned Parenthood clinic in another town in the state, avoiding in office visits. The doctor can dispense the two-step abortion drug known as RU 486 to the woman seeking an abortion by typing in a computer command. The action opens a drawer from which the woman in the remote clinic may remove the pills.
The physician is able to observe her take the first dose of mifepristone, known as RU 486. The patient returns home to take the second pill, known as misoprostol, two days later. Mifepristone causes the lining of the uterus to release the embryonic child, resulting in its death. Misoprostol causes the uterus to contract, expelling the baby.
Board of Medicine members who voted in the majority expressed concern about the safety of women seeking "telemed" abortions.
"How can any of us possibly find that a medical abortion performed over the Internet is as safe as one provided by a physician in person?" asked board chairman Greg Hoversten, The Register reported. "The woman essentially goes home and labors and delivers a fetus. It's very bloody. It's painful."
Planned Parenthood, as expected, decried the board's decision.
"This decision is a political attack aimed at restricting access to abortion in Iowa," said Jill June, president of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. "Proponents of this rule aren't against telemedicine technology; they are against safe, legal" abortion.
Michael Norton, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, commended the board "for caring more about the health and safety of mothers than about the profits Planned Parenthood obtains through 'webcam' abortions. Chemical abortions pose serious health risks to women, so their care should not be taken lightly. No matter where people stand on abortion, all should be able to agree on that."
Planned Parenthood's "telemed" system has spread to Minnesota, but several states have banned the videoconferencing method, including Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.
The Iowa vote may set back hopes the Planned Parenthood Federation of America has reportedly had of expanding its business through the "telemed" system.
Post-comatose British woman declines abortion
Gemma Holmes woke up last year to find she had been in a coma for three months -- and was pregnant.
The 26-year-old British woman could not recall the last three years of her life, including who the father of her unborn child was. She faced months of severe pain from debilitating injuries in a scooter accident and without pain-killing drugs, if she continued with the pregnancy. Still, she chose life for her son.
"I just thought that if this little baby inside me had managed to survive the awful crash, then he was meant to be," Holmes said, according to LifeSiteNews.com, which based its article on British media reports.
Holmes suffered a broken back and head injuries when she was thrown from her scooter into a lamp post. Doctors did not expect her to live and recommended abortion because her pregnancy prevented the type of surgery she required.
Her mother, Julie, refused to grant permission for an abortion. "So many things went through my head, but I wanted to wait until Gemma was awake to make the decision," Julie said, LifeSiteNews reported Aug. 28.
In May, Holmes gave birth to Ruben Miracle Holmes by Cesarean section. Although Holmes is in a wheelchair, both she and her son are doing well. Doctors plan to perform surgery on the mother in a few months, and she hopes to walk again.
"Ruben is the best thing to ever happen to me," Holmes said. "I may not remember how he came to me but I've got the rest of our lives to make up for that."
Chinese woman reveals forced abortion at full term
A Chinese woman has come forward to say she was forcibly aborted at nine months into her pregnancy in 2011.
Lili Zeng of Jiangxi Province said the forced abortion occurred two days before her due date, when seven family planning officials held her down and used a needle to inject a lethal drug into her unborn son, according to an Aug. 29 report by Women's Rights Without Frontiers (WRWF).
"I cried bitterly when they injected the abortion needle into my body, but I heard the family planning officers -- headed by their director -- laughing treacherously," she said. "After the needle injection, they all disappeared, as if I were a pig waiting to be slaughtered."
The baby was born alive before dying.
She recently learned from a family planning officer she was forcibly aborted at the request of her former husband's first wife, and her ex-husband signed a consent form for the abortion, she said. She had been divorced from him, however, for a year when her son was killed, she said. She has tried to kill herself three times since the forced abortion, she said.
China established its "one-child," population control program in 1979. The policy limiting urban couples to one child has resulted in many reports of authorities carrying out forced abortions, sterilizations and infanticides.
The Chinese Health Ministry announced in March there had been 336 million abortions since the government implemented stricter family planning practices in 1971, eight years before the "one-child" policy went into effect.
Lili Zeng's account adds to the growing list of mothers who have been restrained by Chinese family planning officials and aborted late in their pregnancies.
"Her experience dramatically demonstrates the connection between forced abortion and China's astronomical female suicide rate: 590 women a day end their lives in China," WRWF President Reggie Littlejohn said. "Her experience shows that -- even when a woman is pregnant with her first child -- if it is her husband's second child, she can be forcibly aborted. We strongly condemn forced abortion under China's One Child Policy and demand that the Chinese government put a stop to these atrocities immediately."
WVU prof. regularly sees women with abortion complications
A West Virginia University medical professor has told the state's attorney general he often sees women with abortion complications.
"We commonly (I personally probably at least weekly) see patients at Women and Children's Hospital with complications from abortion at these centers in Charleston: so much for 'safe and legal.' These patients are told to come to our hospital because the abortion clinic providers do not have hospital privileges to care for their patients, so we must treat them as emergency 'drop-ins,'" Byron Calhoun wrote in a letter to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
Morrisey, who is reviewing West Virginia's abortion clinic regulations, received Calhoun's letter as part of the public comments Morrisey accepted on the topic, The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette reported Sept. 2. The newspaper gained Calhoun's letter through a public records request.
"No other medical providers are allowed to care for patients, have no backup coverage, and then abandon them to the emergency room.... The fantasy of women's reproductive health care seems to allow these individuals who perform the abortions some special dispensation to provide substandard care," wrote Calhoun, vice chairman of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at West Virginia University Physicians of Charleston.
Calhoun is national medical advisor for a pro-life organization, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates.
Compiled by Washington bureau chief Tom Strode. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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