How democracy is killing Planned Parenthood Reply

“I would say this is fantastic news for women and families in the state of Iowa. We would say the services and care provided by Planned Parenthood in the state of Iowa were not what women and families deserved. We have said from the very beginning that there are many, many other qualified health centers that provide comprehensive health care for women.” More…

The risks of a “vending-machine attitude” toward gynecological care Reply

By Tom Quiner

Maggie Dewitte is Executive Director for Iowans for L.I.F.E. She stood up before the Iowa Board of Medicine last Friday and read a statement prepared by Dr. Donna J. Harrison on the dangers of telabortions. Dr. Harrison is President of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (

Here are the takeaway points from Dr. Harrison’s statement:

• Telabortions are a threat to women’s health.

• Telemed dispensing can’t properly evalute uterine and other physical abnormalities that may create a life-threatening complication to the patient.

• The “abortion pill” (RU-486) is not FDA approved for use in pregnancies beyond 49 day’s gestation due to dramatically increased risk of complications. Without an ultrasound, gestational age estimates were more than two weeks off in half of the women according to studies Dr. Harrison quotes. Telabortions do not provide women with ultrasounds or any kind of exam before dispensing the pills.

Here are Dr. Harrison’s complete remarks:

“Telemed dispensing of abortion drugs are not only a gross disservice to women seeking abortion,  but are also a real threat to women’s health, as it is not possible to either accurately assess  the stage of the pregnancy,  nor accurately screen for pregnancy abnormalities such as ectopic pregnancy, which is an absolute contraindication to the use of mifepristone.  Nor can telemed dispensing allow for evaluation of uterine, or other physical abnormalities that may present a life or health threatening complication for the woman.

The purpose of a physician or practitioner visit is to screen for contraindications to abortion.  Many of these contraindications will not be apparent from history, which is why a physical examination is critically important to adequate pre-abortion counseling.  Since mifepristone is not FDA approved for pregnancies over 49 day’s gestation, it is imperative that the gestational age of the pregnancy be accurately assessed prior to dispensing mifepristone.   Administration of mifepristone beyond the 49 day cut off exposes the woman to dramatically increased risks of hemorrhage, infection and failed procedures necessitating a subsequent surgical abortion.   Spitz, et al, one of the principle investigators in the U.S. clinical trial leading to FDA approval, investigated the ability of patient history to predict gestational age, and found that over half of the women had dates more than two weeks in error when compared to the simultaneous ultrasound required prior to mifepristone administration in the clinical trial.   Thus, depending on history alone, which is what happens with telemed abortion dispensing, will result in the use of mifepristone in women who are beyond the FDA approval limitation, and into the gestational age where failures and complications exponentially increase.

Ectopic pregnancy, which is present in approximately 3 out of every 100 pregnancies, is an absolute contraindication to mifepristone use.  It is not possible to do adequate screening for ectopic pregnancies via a telemed dispensing system. Further the side effects of prolonged bleeding and pain, which accompany the normal mifepristone abortion, are identical to the bleeding and pain experienced with ectopic pregnancies.  Masking ectopic pregnancy symptoms led to the death of one of the 8 women who died in the first two years after mifepristone approval.

The FDA, in its approval of RU-486/mifepristone for abortion, recognized that for the safety of patients, significant controls on dispensing must be in place, and required two in person visits as a condition for approval of this drug.  RU-486/mifepristone causes increased hemorrhages, infections and failed abortions as compared to surgical abortions, as has recently been documented in several recent publications in the medical literature.  And the incidence of hemorrhage, infection and failed abortion increases dramatically as gestational age increases. The CDC estimates that the risk of death from a mifepristone abortion due to clostridium sordellii infection alone is 10times the risk of death from a surgical abortion at a comparable gestational age.

The impetus for telemed abortions does not come from improving patient care, but rather from increasing profits.   The burden of proof of improved patient care via this system is on the proponents, who have not shown decreased complications or improved outcome.   And there is no logical reason to expect improved outcome from a vending-machine attitude toward gynecological care.  This is an abuse of women.   On behalf of the women of Iowa, we ask the Iowa Board of Medicine to deny endorsement of this abusive practice.”




Iowa women’s health in jeopardy with telemedicine abortion 3

By Maggie DeWitte, Executive Director of Iowans for L.I.F.E.

Maggie DeWitte

Have we gone too far?

In this world of rapidly advancing medical technology, the need exists to frequently step back and look honestly at what the possible outcome of each new advancement might be.

That certainly is the case for the telemedicine abortion scheme being tested on Iowans across the state of Iowa by Planned Parenthood.  Recently, several pro-life and pro-family organizations brought this issue to the forefront by presenting a letter to the Iowa Board of Medicine regarding this push-button medicine during their August 20th board meeting.  Nearly 60 groups within Iowa and across the country signed onto this letter stating that telemedicine abortion is an unsafe practice and should be stopped immediately.

The Des Moines Register wrote an editorial on September 5th entitled, “Telemedicine should help expand care, not limit choice,” and unfortunately gave readers an inaccurate commentary on what the real focus of our letter to the Board of Medicine was about.

The coalition of groups that came together had one issue in mind – telemedicine abortion.  The use of telemedicine in general is not the issue, and if used safely is of great benefit to many people in rural areas.

The opening line of this article states: “Some anti-choice groups will try anything to prevent women from having access to abortions.”  Yes, our group wants to prevent abortion, but our concern that day was the safety and welfare of women.  Such an important and life-changing decision needs to be made with a physician, face-to-face, so the physician can assess her physical and mental health, review her options, and make sure she understands the serious side effects of this action physically, mentally, and emotionally.

This is a women’s health issue.  Pro-life groups are often falsely accused of only caring about the baby. This issue illustrates that we do care about women and want them to be safe and healthy.   If we follow the Anti-life mantra of making abortion safe, rare and legal, we are disregarding their first tenet.  Telemedicine abortion is not safe, pure and simple.

RU-486 (mifepristone) is a dangerous and unsafe drug.  According to 2006 FDA figures, this abortion drug has killed at least 13 women worldwide and injured 1,100 in the United States.  This is not something that should be administered to women of Iowa with nary a physician present as the Register contends.  Telemedicine abortion is not about expanding access to health care to women in rural areas; it is about expanding the pocketbook of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and in the process endangering the lives of our children, sisters, and mothers across this state.

The Des Moines Register states that our “only agenda is to take a step backward when it comes to women’s reproductive rights.”  If the Des Moines Register Editorial staff had bothered to contact our group regarding this article, they would have been able to truthfully report on our agenda that day.  We are an organization whose vision is to educate Iowans on the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.  The sanctity of human life includes the women of Iowa who are being tested with this telemedicine abortion scheme.  Their reproductive rights include safe procedures, not dispensing RU-486 by a video and sending these women on their way with no preparation for what has happened or what will happen in the privacy of their home.