Women’s reproductive rights and access to safe and legal abortions has been viewed as a threat to many U.S. politicians and law makers for years despite the Roe v. Wade ruling case in 1973 which gave a woman the right to decide if and when to abort a fetus. With states throughout the country that still disagree with a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices, many politicians in places like Texas and Kansas are implementing new abortion laws that severely restrict women’s access to abortions. Now, board members in Iowa have taken similar steps after quietly eliminating abortion access to low-income women.
On Friday, right before the Labor Day Weekend, Iowa’s Board of Medicine voted on eliminating one of the most useful and largest means of abortion access in the U.S. The program is referred to as telemedicine abortion. Telemedicine is the latest in video technology which allows doctors to speak with patients who are not able to visit in person due to rural or low-income reasons. Used by more than 12 million Americans, Iowa was the first state to implement the practice to provide abortion assistance to women in need.
Having used the program for the past five years, doctors were able to administrate and prescribe pills to women over video chat, providing easy health care access to underprivileged women. Despite its safety and success rate amongst patients and doctors alike, twelve states have banned this telemedicine service completely. Even with the program being used for other means – such as assisting chronically ill veterans – many are simply against having it used as another means of access to abortions.
“Proponents of this rule [are not] against telemedicine technology,” said Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s president Jill June, “They are against safe [and] legal abortions – this decision is a political attack aimed at restricting access to abortion in Iowa.” Such implementation will have a major effect on the rest of the country, too. As Iowa eliminates its abortion access to low-income women in Iowa, underprivileged women around the country will not have the financial means to travel miles and miles to receive the care they need, nor will they have the financial stability requirements it takes to raise a family.
A member of the Iowa Board of Medicine who helped to implement the new regulation was quoted as saying that this new law was not to limit abortion access, but to, “[give women the] standard health care that [they] deserve.” But with the Iowa Board of Medicine having been replaced with anti-choice members, many are accusing the team of not properly reviewing the evidence regarding the program and instead focusing on an agenda to restrict basic health care access for thousands of women. Dr. Robert Shaw, chairman of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, noted that this ruling is a, “terrifying example of politics dictating healthcare.”
With nearly 200,000 women needing financial help for abortions every year, Iowa eliminating its abortion access to low-income women with programs like telemedicine abortions will have a harmful effect on the ways struggling women, children and families are brought up.
Written by Annie Elizabeth Martin