Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has been having a difficult time lately. Following the introduction of telemedical abortion pill administration, the organization has been accused of patient neglect and an investigator has been assigned to the case.
Roughly two years ago, Iowa became the first state in the nation to carry out the telemedicine program, which uses “modern technology and telecommunications” to connect a patient from a rural area with a doctor at a remote location.
Planned Parenthood has telemedicine programs in 16 locations throughout the state, including Iowa City.
If a woman chooses a telemedical procedure, the medical staff provides her with an examination and an ultrasound.
Results are then sent to a doctor who meets with the patient via a closed-circuit video conference to discuss any concerns.
Once the doctor has determined the woman is medically eligible to take the abortion pill, a medication dispensing unit is unlocked and the patient has access to the pill, misoprostol or mifepristone.
The doctor observes the patient take the pill and provides her with additional instructions for follow-up care.
But Planned Parenthood is not a group that rests on its laurels. Concurrently, the organization is suing the state of Nebraska for law LB 594, a law which requires abortion providers to evaluate and inform patients of possible complications and risk factors based on information that has been published in accepted “peer reviewed journals” and to determine that the patient has not been coerced prior to the procedure. Obligations not easily fulfilled in a telemedical situation and that will slow down the process with a thorough review of patient history.
The possible penalties? $10,000 per uninformed patient and recovery sums for women who were the victims of coerced abortions that providers knowingly (or negligently) preformed.
The legislation, which was passed in April and is scheduled to go into effect on July 15, has been controversial for several months. According to Planned Parenthood, which services portions of Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska, the law in question seeks to “ensure that women are ‘informed’ before consenting to an abortion, [but] actually imposes requirements that are both impossible to meet and require physicians to flood their patients with false and misleading information.”
With money no object for legal fees, I’ll be watching this case as it climbs the judicial ranks.by