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ABORTION POLICY: Telemedicine Debated

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Iowa has a controversial abortion policy that involves medicine and technology.

The telemedicine system allows doctors to meet with patients remotely, through video-conferencing and when it comes to abortions, that method is being challenged.

The Iowa Board of Medicine debated Wednesday whether doctors should be able to use it to prescribe abortion inducing medication to a patient they see on a video screen.

Dr. Thomas Ross with Planned Parenthood says the procedure is safe.

“Abortion by medication is an extremely low risk medical intervention, I would call it safe.”

While others say taking the medication without a doctor readily available is risky.

“Once she's taken the medication she has to expel something from her uterus and depending on how many times she's had a pregnancy the difficulty is extreme,” says family practitioner, Dr. Gregory McKernen.

Dr. Mckernan says the standard of care is jeopardized when a patient does not meet face to face with a doctor.

“We're just asking the board to evaluate it under the same criteria in which they would in any other proceed in terms of standard of care including physical exams, history and good careful qualified medical follow up.”

Planned Parenthood does not preform physical exams on their patients but still allow for women to take the abortion pill. They say whether a woman takes the pill physically in front of the doctor or not, it’s still safe.

“Medical complications rate for abortions are less than one percent, this number did not change with the introduction of telemedicine abortion services,” says Dr. Ross.

A decision on the issue could come several months from now.