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Victory for Women's Health: Iowa State Court Blocks Abortion Restrictions While Planned Parenthood’s Challenge Proceeds

DES MOINES, IA – An Iowa state court today granted Planned Parenthood's request to suspend an administrative rule designed to restrict access to medication abortion while Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit challenging the legality of the rule proceeds.  This means Iowa women, particularly those in rural and medically underserved areas, will continue to have access to abortion early in pregnancy, when it’s safest.

In temporarily blocking the provision – which was scheduled to take effect tomorrow – the judge wrote, “the Court strains to understand how decreasing the number of apparently effective and safe abortion services offered to Iowa women pending the resolution of this case supports to the public’s interest in receiving ‘adequate’ healthcare.  If anything, the opposite is true.”

Statement from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

“This is an important victory for women's health. The court saw that this restriction had no basis in medicine, and that in fact it would have jeopardized women's health. This ruling protects access to abortion early in pregnancy, especially for women in rural communities.

"This attempt to restrict access to safe and legal abortion in Iowa is just one of hundreds of efforts across the country to interfere with women's personal medical decisions. Your constitutional rights and ability to make your own medical decisions shouldn't depend on your zip code, and this ruling protects Iowa women's health and rights."


After the Iowa Board of Medicine was stacked with appointees who oppose safe and legal abortion, the board voted in August 2013 to enact a rule that bans Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s telemedicine delivery system for medication abortion.  Planned Parenthood’s process for a medication abortion delivered through telemedicine has been demonstrated to be just as safe and effective as the process of an in-person meeting with a doctor.  A woman’s counseling, exam and information are all completed in person, and a medical professional is in the room with her.  Using this system, which is no different than telemedicine delivery systems used widely in other medical procedures, Planned Parenthood was able to make access to early abortion available across rural Iowa through a network of 15 health centers.

Planned Parenthood filed a petition for judicial review of the board’s vote in state court on September 30, and also asked the court to block the rule’s enforcement during the review.  If the rule had gone into effect as scheduled on November 6, Planned Parenthood would have been forced to end the delivery of medication abortion at all but a handful of health centers.


Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With nearly 750 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment.


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Published: 11.05.13

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