Today, the Iowa state Supreme Court by a 6-0 vote (with one abstention) ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood’s “webcam” abortion protocol. In so doing, the Court overturned a lower court ruling and their own state medical board.
In this “innovation” (meant to maneuver around a dwindling supply of physicians wanting to perform abortions) pregnant women can obtain chemical abortion drugs without an “in-person” contact with a licensed physician.
The Iowa Supreme Court can only be commended for not claiming to “discover” a right to abortion in the state Constitution–a right that Planned Parenthood argued existed and was even broader than the abortion right created by Roe.
But the pro-abortion bent of this court is clear, in reaching its conclusion that a physician onsite exam created an “undue burden” (which, as a federal “standard” has been variously interpreted since 1992 to practically the breaking point). The Court even cited some oft-repeated abortion industry talking points about the burden of returning for medical checkups, including that repeat trips can aggravate domestic abuse for some women!
The Iowa Solicitor General pressed the point that Planned Parenthood’s own survey could not prove that women’s “access” to abortion was improved after introduction of the webcam protocol.
The Court ruled that, “based on 2013 medical standards and practices in Iowa,” the overturned law supplies only “minimal medical justification.” However, what the Iowa state lawyers wrote on behalf of the medical board was:
“Abortion-inducing drugs are not over the counter medications. Unless and until such a time when abortion-inducing drugs are no longer required to be dispensed by physicians, physicians must do so within the confines of the standard of care. The Board of Medicine determined the standard of care requires a physical examination prior to dispensing abortion-inducing drugs.”
19 states have passed anti-webcam laws; 15 are in effect, two go into effect in July and Iowa’s has now been overturned.
Kansas’ anti-webcam provision from 2011 is under injunction, but the 2015 legislature enacted a clarification on medical emergencies, now in effect, aimed at getting the injunction removed. (Read more here.)