Iowa Supreme Court: Ban on telemed abortion unconstitutional

Via The Des Moines Register:

Iowa’s Supreme Court ruled Friday that Planned Parenthood of the Heartland may keep using its controversial telemedicine-abortion system.

More than 7,200 Iowa women have used the system to obtain abortion-inducing pills since 2008. The system, the first of its kind in the nation, allows Planned Parenthood doctors in Des Moines or Iowa City to interact via video with patients in outlying clinics, then dispense the pills to the women.

State regulators, appointed by Iowa’s anti-abortion governor, ruled in 2013 that the system should effectively be banned because of purported safety concerns. The ban was put on hold while Planned Parenthood appealed in court. A district judge sided with the regulators in 2014, but the Supreme Court disagreed Friday.

The justices decided 6-0 that the Iowa Board of Medicine’s rule violated women’s constitutional rights. The court noted that telemedicine is being used to provide many other types of health care. But the medical board only focused on telemedicine’s use for abortion when it imposed a requirement that doctors personally perform physical exams on patients, the justices wrote. “It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the board’s medical concerns about telemedicine are selectively limited to abortion.”