Iowa State Increases Abortion Access in Remote Areas

BlogHer Original Post

If you read the propaganda produced by anti-choice advocates (and often repeated ad nauseam in the mainstream media), America's abortion crisis is that there is too much access to abortion. The reality, however, is that there is not even remotely enough access to abortion: 87% of counties in the United States have no abortion services. (That number increases to 93% if you remove urban counties.) There are a lot of reasons for this; lack of demand is not one of them.

Cleverly, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland in Iowa found a solution. Since 93% of counties in the state have no abortion provider, they created a service based on successful models of health care delivery in rural areas. Sarah at Feminists for Choice explains how it works:

The woman still has an ultrasound to determine fetal age; is examined by a nurse; and undergoes counseling. The doctor still reviews the woman’s chart and talks with her before prescribing the pills.

Again, once all the information is reviewed, the doctor can choose to prescribe RU-486, known as the "abortion pill." The only difference is that the doctor is not in the room. He/she is teleconferencing with the patient. The woman receives the medication from a locked drawer opened remotely by the doctor, takes her first dose at the clinic, then follows up with a second dose at home. She comes back to the clinic for follow up exams and care. Nothing about the process is different than if the doctor is in the room, except that the doctor doesn't need to travel hours and hours to get to the clinic and there are no protesters outside threatening to shoot him/her and his/her family.

Of course, the people who will do anything to ensure that everyone must live by their religious beliefs about abortion tried to stop this. Of course, they claimed it is to safeguard women's health. (As Robin Marty at RH Reality Check wrote back in March, antis noted that RU-486 has caused 29 deaths. For goodness sake's then, I say we should ban pregnancy immediately! Over 700 women in the US die each year from problems related to pregnancy or childbirth which is terrifying and sobering, and thus if you care about women's health [1.7 million women have health complications due to pregnancy every year], the obvious answer is to stop pregnancy now! Sigh.) Maybe they think it is safer to have an illegal abortion. I'm not sure. Whatever the case, they filed complaints that it violated state laws mandating that doctors perform procedures. But that's exactly what is happening with telemed prescriptions since the doctor would only give her the pills anyway. (Again, this is not a surgical procedure in any way, shape, or form.) Fortunately, as reported by Jezebel, the medical facts prevailed and the 19 clinics across the state can continue the practice.

From what I understand based on a casual conversation I had on Monday night, Planned Parenthood is looking to expand this great model. Hence the antis are gearing up to have them banned in their state. (Oh Nebraska! Really?) So it goes: One step forward, two slaps in the face, and a poignant reminder that Roe v. Wade is meaningless if there's no one in your community to offer a safe abortion when you need one.

Suzanne also blogs at Campaign for Unshaved Snatch (CUSS) & Other Rants and is the author of Off the Beaten (Subway) Track.


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