A bill that would have banned telemedicine abortions died in the Iowa legislature Friday after failing to meet a legislative deadline. Senate Republicans had called on Democrats, who currently hold the majority in the state senate, to bring legislation to the floor for a vote.
HF 2175, sponsored by Rep. Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley), was passed by the house in February in a 55-42 vote, mostly along party lines. The bill would have banned the dispensing of medication to terminate a pregnancy “via telecommunications technology”—a practice that has been used by Planned Parenthood clinics in the state since 2008, allowing some 5,000 women who lack access to clinics that provide abortions to receive safe abortion care.
Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City), the senate majority whip, told the Des Moines Register that telemedicine abortion services have proven to be a safe and effective way to meet the reproductive health-care needs for Iowa women. “This is an attack on the relationship between rural women and their doctors and we don’t see a need to move this legislation forward at this time,” said Bolkcom.
Bolkcom also cited pending litigation on an Iowa Board of Medicine ruling that banned the use of telemedicine abortions; in November, an Iowa judge issued a ruling to stay enforcement of the rule pending results from the trial. Bolkcom said lawmakers should wait for the outcome of the lawsuit before considering any related legislation.