OUR FIGHT FOR IOWA WOMEN CONTINUES: Planned Parenthood Will File Appeal to Iowa Supreme Court

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Abortion Restrictions Remain Blocked by Court Order, Appeal Will Seek to Block Enforcement of a Rule that Ends Abortion Access in Rural and Medically Underserved Areas

August 19, 2014 (DES MOINES, IA) – Planned Parenthood of the Heartland announced plans to file an appeal with the Iowa Supreme Court, after a district court judge today upheld an administrative rule that could cut off women in rural and medically underserved areas from access to safe, legal abortion. The rule remains blocked by court order for 30 days while Planned Parenthood of the Heartland files its appeal.

The rule bans telehealth delivery of medication abortion, even though Planned Parenthood’s telehealth protocols have been demonstrated to be just as safe and effective as their in-person protocols. A woman receiving care at a health center via telehealth is counseled and examined in person by medical professionals, who also are present while she interacts with a physician via video technology and then, under the physician’s observation, takes the first medication.

“What is happening in Iowa is part of a dangerous trend: using any means necessary, politicians are imposing restrictions on abortion that will take safe and legal abortion away from women living in parts of the country where access to health care is already very limited,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  “It’s unacceptable and unconstitutional to deny safe care from women in need, which is why we are going directly to the state Supreme Court and fighting with everything we’ve got.”

“The court’s ruling is incredibly disappointing, but our fight for Iowa women continues. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland will continue to provide the full range of reproductive health services at our health centers, while this dangerous rule remains blocked by the courts,” said Penny Dickey, chief operating officer of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. “While the Board of Medicine claims it is acting to protect women's safety and health, its true purpose is to prevent women from receiving an abortion if and when they need one. And the rule would actually jeopardize women’s health by delaying their care. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland will continue to fight for evidence-based medicine and a woman’s right to make her personal health care decisions.”

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND:

The ban, imposed by the Board of Medicine after it was stacked with appointees who oppose safe and legal abortion, will end access to safe and legal abortion in all areas of the state outside Des Moines and Iowa City if the Supreme Court does not act to halt its implementation.  As a result of this ban, some women will have to drive more than 500 miles round-trip, multiple times, to access care.

The Iowa Board of Medicine investigated Planned Parenthood’s telehealth delivery system in 2010, and concluded that it was safe and consistent with prevailing standards of care. The governor then replaced the entire board and, in August 2013, the new board reversed the former board’s decision. “[T]his was a political decision and not a decision based on medical science, even though it’s been touted as that,” said Dr. John Olds, a physician who formerly served on the board and currently acts as an advisor to the body. In September 2013, Planned Parenthood filed a petition for judicial review of the board’s vote in state court and also asked the court to block the rule’s enforcement during the review. If the rule takes effect, only three health centers would continue to offer safe and legal abortion in the entire state.

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Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.

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