Iowa Supreme Court Sides with Planned Parenthood

Date of Publication (June 19, 2015)

Today, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Iowa Board of Medicine. The case centered around the constitutionality of the Iowa Board of Medicine’s (IBM) administrative rules prohibiting a physician to administer abortion-inducing medication via telemedicine.

In its 6-0 ruling, the justices determined that the rule violated a woman’s rights under the state and federal constitutions and imposed an unconstitutional “undue burden” on a woman’s right to seek an abortion. It referred to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s standard of care regarding a first-term abortion, which do not require a physician to perform a physical examination on a woman before providing a medication abortion.

The Court also referred to IBM’s telemedicine practice standards administrative rules, which went into effect June 3, 2015. It noted that the new rules allow telemedicine to be used in many other types of healthcare, and that the rule in question pertained only to telemedicine’s use for abortion when it imposed the requirement that physicians perform in-person physical exams.

In 2013, the Iowa Board of Medicine determined that Planned Parenthood physicians’ use of the telemedicine system to dispense pills was unsafe and implemented the administrative rules in question prohibiting the practice. Planned Parenthood appealed the rule in August 2014 to district court, which found in favor of the IBM. Planned Parenthood sought further review and appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in March of this year.

The ruling is available online here.