Roundup: ella and Iowa, A Tale of Two Anti-Choice Outrages


It’s hard to decide today which has anti-choice people in a greater tizzy: Iowa Planned Parenthood’s decision to allow doctors to teleconference with women who are going to take RU-486 rather than force them to travel hours or set aside days in order to obtain the drug, or the new “morning after pill” that would allow women who had unprotected sex a bigger window in which to prevent unintended pregnancy.  Ironically, their fevered protest of both shows how their arguments are simply about forcing women into pregnancy.

The “telemedicine” or “telemed” approach allows women to go to their local clinic, rather than travel all the way into Des Moines to see the licensed physician face to physical face.  From the Ames Tribune:

 Marsha Dorhout, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s director of communications and marketing, calls Ames a “melting pot serving several counties.”

 She said the telemedicine option for medical abortion is just one way to serve the needs of 4,200 women and men who visit the clinic annually for services ranging from general heath care to reproductive services.

 Dr. Tom Ross, one of Planned Parenthood’s doctors, said he talks to patients, asking his questions and answering any of theirs, as if he is speaking to them in person.

 For some, however, the program tests the already complicated bounds of telemedicine.

 Abortion opponents, who say they fear for the safety of women who undergo abortions after consulting with doctors who have never actually been in the same room with them, filed a complaint this spring with the Iowa Board of Medicine, arguing that a doctor’s remote clicking of a mouse hardly meets the state’s law requiring licensed physicians to perform abortions.

Of course, anti-choicers are sounding their objections, claiming they are only trying to protect the women taking the pills from harm.  The Guardian reports:

The New York Times reports that anti-abortion advocates claim to oppose the Iowa teleconferencing programme because they fear for the safety of women who take the abortion pill without a doctor present. You know, just in case something goes wrong.

Aww. What heartwarming and thoughtful concern for women’s safety, from people nostalgic for the days when abortions could only be had via coat hangers in back alleys…

Of course, these doctor visits – online or in real life – wouldn’t be required in the first place if not for medically unnecessary legal roadblocks set up by anti-abortion concern trolls in the Iowa legislature. Imagine if Christian Scientists enjoyed the same government influence as the anti-choice anti-sex crowd: “Take one penicillin pill with water, every 12 hours for 10 days. Each pill must be swallowed in the presence of a licensed physician – hey! Watching on a webcam doesn’t count! Think about it: with this scheme, one GP sitting in his pyjamas at home could prescribe literally thousands of antibiotics a week. This is about expanding their infectious-patient base.”

Anti-abortion concern trolls in Iowa deserve the same response as drug warrior concern trolls opposing harm-reduction measures for narcotics: give up the pretence, guys. You’re not motivated by concerns for their safety and you’re not fooling anyone that you are; you just don’t like what they’re doing, and want them to suffer as much as possible.

If there needed to be any more proof that the claim of “protecting the woman’s safety” is a joke, a column from the head of Dubuque County Right to Life in TH Online makes it pretty clear.

The real issue of concern is that the telemed abortion procedure is a disturbing new trend in the abortion industry that is endangering the lives and health of thousands of women. To date, the manufacturer admits 29 women have died from using RU-486.

A telemed abortion is performed via a teleconferencing service similar to Skype. Patients are put in a room where an off-site abortionist appears on a computer monitor and explains the abortion procedure to them over an Internet hook-up. After the brief teleconference — but no physical examination by the abortionist — the abortionist remotely unlocks a dispenser and the dangerous abortion drug RU-486 is administered to the pregnant mother.

Telemed abortion involves two steps. First, the abortionist instructs the mother to ingest the first pill in front of the camera while she is in the office. Second, she is given a second prescription to take at home. The second drug, to be ingested within 48 hours, causes uterine contractions to expel the unborn child. The result is that the mother aborts her own child at home.

The consequences of this procedure are frightening. Young mothers will face the horrific reality of seeing their aborted baby and then flushing him or her down the toilet. Emergency rooms will see an increase of young women coming in with excessive bleeding and hemorrhaging due to taking this drug.

There is no longer a disconnect between Planned Parenthood and abortion in Dubuque. The truth is that eventually babies, the most innocent and defenseless members of our society, will die in Dubuque via tele-murder.

See, he started out worried for the poor women who might have to face the horror of seeing their aborted fetuses, or possibly experience some complications, but in the end it’s the “dead innocent babies” that really upset him, not the allegedly compromised mothers.

It’s this mentality that has made the anti-choice movement focus on a new target, the possible use of the French drug ella in the U.S.  Similar in makeup to the current morning after pill, Ella could provide a larger window for preventing unwanted pregnancy immediately after intercourse: up to five days rather than the previous 72 hours.  But of course, like all hormonal birth controls, the anti-choice hate it because it may possibly inhibit implantation.

From the Washington Post:

The controversy sparked by that ambiguity promises to overshadow the work of a federal panel that will convene next week to consider endorsing the drug. The last time the Food and Drug Administration vetted an emergency contraceptive — Plan B, the so-called morning-after pill — the decision was mired in debate over such fundamental questions as when life begins and the distinction between preventing and terminating a pregnancy. Ella is raising many of those same politically charged questions — but more sharply, testing the Obama administration’s pledge to keep ideology from influencing scientific decisions.

Plan B, which works for up to 72 hours after sex, was eventually approved for sale without a prescription, although a doctor’s order is required for girls younger than 17. The new drug promises to extend that period to at least 120 hours. Approved in Europe last year, ella is available as an emergency contraceptive in at least 22 countries.

Ella is being welcomed by many U.S. advocates for family planning and reproductive rights as a much-needed additional form of emergency contraception. Opponents of the drug, however, argue that the French company and the FDA would be misleading the public by labeling ella as an emergency contraceptive. Its chemical similarity to RU-486 makes it more like the controversial abortion pill, which can terminate a pregnancy at up to nine weeks, they say. RU-486 has soared in popularity since approval 10 years ago in the United States, raising the possibility that ella (ulipristal acetate) might become ubiquitous in American women’s medicine cabinets.

The usual suspects are declaring it abortion in all but name, of course.

Critics say marketing the drug as a contraceptive is misleading because of its similarity to RU-486, which can terminate a pregnancy at up to nine weeks.

“With (ella) women will be enticed to buy a poorly tested abortion drug, unaware of its medical risks, under the guise that it’s a morning-after pill,” said Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America, which led the battle against the morning after pill.

And as the Post reminds us, the real point is that their definition of “life” is very different than most of ours.

“It kills embryos, just like the abortion pill,” said Donna Harrison, president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Critics fear that women who do not realize they are already pregnant will use the drug, unwittingly giving themselves an abortion.

“The difference between preventing life and destroying life is hugely significant to many women,” said Jeanne Monahan, director of the Family Research Council’s Center for Human Dignity. “Women deserve to know that difference.”

Once more, it’s all about protecting women from hurting themselves in their own ignorance.  Just like telemed in Iowa allegedly is, as well.

Mini Roundup: Mother and doctors who help 9 year old abort her twins after being raped are excommunicated, while her stepfather the rapist is notAmericans United for Life finally realize that the ultrasound law was a PR loser, and chide Crist for “allowing taxpayer funded abortions” instead.  And anti-choice leaders froth at the idea that someone might put economics and other concerns over making elections about the “unborn” and “traditional marriage.”

June 11, 2010

Iowa’s anti-abortion concern trolls – The Guardian

Free Exercise v. Abortion in the Military – Beliefnet.com

Abortion Bills by the Numbers – Center For American Progress

Activists set to contend over Kagan nomination – Biddeford Journal Tribune

Huckabee fundraises against Gov. Mitch Daniels’s ‘social truce’ – Washington Post

Nicaragua refuses to lift abortion ban – The Guardian

New ‘morning-after’ pill, ella, raises debate over similarity to abortion drug – Washington Post

Pro-Abortion Boxer Leads Pro-Life Carly Fiorina in California by Five Percent – LifeNews.com

Amendment to overturn ban on abortions at military facilities causing a stir – FierceHealthcare

Promise of an Optimal Future for Women and Girls – TwoCircles.net

‘Choose Life’ Plates Available At RMV Soon – WBZ

Family Research Council Disagrees With Mitch Daniels – FrumForum

Sarah Palin viewed as a modern-day prophet to Evangelicals, Newsweek profile … – New York Daily News

Kagan Took Lead Role in Fight Over Abortion Limits, Papers Show – BusinessWeek

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist vetoes ultrasound abortion bill – USA Today

Statement on Crist Veto of HB 1143 – Standard Newswire

Crist vetoes ultrasounds bill – Creative Loafing Tampa

‘Choose Life’ license plate causes controversy – WHDH-TV

Alabama Health Dept. forces closure of abortion clinic – WSFA

Medication Abortion Drug Distributed Via Telemedicine – KWQC 6

New birth control pill re-ignites debate – UPI.com

Kagan memos on abortion limits, religious rights – The Associated Press

Florida Governor Vetoes Abortion Bill – New York Times

‘Choose Life’ license plate causes controversy – WHDH-TV

Melinda Gates on 350000 Childbirth Deaths: ‘We Can Prevent Most’ – Politics Daily

Rossi resists defining himself on abortion – TheNewsTribune.com

PHILIPPINES: Poor women pay for contraception – IRINnews.org

Africa: US Summit Sets Agenda for Women – AllAfrica.com

Panel votes to keep restrictions on gay blood donations – Washington Times

AIDS groups protest FIFA ban policy- Las Vegas Sun

June 12, 2010

‘Life and traditional marriage are not bargaining chips nor are they political’ – WND.com

‘Choose life’ tags roil critics – Boston Herald

Funding abortion on military bases – Washington Times

Kagan Played Lead Role in Abortion Rights Fight Under Clinton – BusinessWeek

Abortion veto puts Crist in the middle – MiamiHerald.com

Crist vetoes abortion bill, takes fire from all sides – Florida Times-Union

Medication Abortion Drug Distributed Via Telemedicine – KWQC 6

Local news: Cox garners Right to Life endorsement – Detroit Free Press

Florida Governor Charlie Crist moves to the center, vetoes Republican-backed … – Examiner.com

Canada cheered, jeered at maternal health conference for G8 initiative- Lethbridge Herald

State laws used to go after right to abortion – The Militant

New French Emergency Contraceptive Pill May Soon Be Available in US – Tech Jackal

Dozens of teenage girls have had three abortions or more – Telegraph.co.uk

The Year of the (Pro-Life) Woman – New York Times

Scientology and abortion – Tampabay.com

“ella:” Contraceptive Method or Abortion Agent? – Food Consumer

Abortion drugs available through video link – Ames Tribune

How India’s six-child family became three – Toronto Star

‘Natural’ new pill could lift sex drive – Sydney Morning Herald

Treatment saves lives, money – Vancouver Sun

June 13, 2010

Multiple Abortion On The Rise – Christian Doctors Blame Liberal Sex Education … – allvoices

New Anti-Abortion Laws Whittling Away at Women’s Right to Choose – The Faster Times

Brazil: Abortion fight for raped girl, 9 – Toronto Star

GLOBAL: Healthy women mean healthier nations – IRINnews.org

Abortion among girls on the increase in South-Tongu District – GhanaWeb

Close to 200 attend rally in support of abortion – Montreal Gazette

Abortion Doctor Honored By Oklahoma Group – KTUL

Teens who are on THIRD abortion as girls fail at contraception- Mirror.co.uk

New contraceptive pill “ella” effective for 5 days after unprotected sex – The Money Times

June 14, 2010

Letter: ‘Pro choice’ no substitute for ‘pro abortion’ – St. Augustine Record

Taking Ottawa to task on abortion – Montreal Gazette

Does Crist veto open door to taxpayer funded abortions? – WDBO Radio

‘The pill’ marks 50th anniversary – AsiaOne

A baby is born, a mother dies – The Guardian

The battle for maternal healthcare – The Guardian

Women risk HIV in forced marriages – Toronto Star

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Follow Robin Marty on Twitter: @robinmarty

To schedule an interview with Robin Marty please contact Communications Director Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.