The Iowa Board of Health voted to ban the nation's largest telemedicine abortion program last Friday, effectively limiting reproductive health access to thousands of rural women. The decision follows a decision in 2010 by Iowa's Republican Gov. Terry Branstad in which he replaced all 10 members of the nonpartisan medical Board of Health with anti-choice advocates.
Iowa's telemedicine abortion program allows women to consult with doctors through video technology before being prescribed the abortion-inducing pill and has been heralded as a safe and effective form of reproductive health care since its implementation five years ago.
According to Planned Parenthood, staff members at 15 remote clinics perform standard tests on the patients. A doctor reviews those records before meeting with the woman over the videoconferencing system. If the doctor deems she is a valid candidate the medicine, she is given it at the clinic. Patients report being just as satisfied after speaking with the doctor via video feed as they are in-person.
Since 2008, Iowa's telemedicine program has helped an estimated 3,000 rural women obtain safe and legal abortions.
Media Resources: CBN 9/3/2013; ThinkProgress 9/3/2013, 8/29/2013
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .