PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF THE GREAT NORTHWEST AND THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, December 1, 2015 
CONTACT: Katie Rogers, Public Relations Manager, (206) 328-7705

Planned Parenthood Files Lawsuit to Protect Access to Safe, Legal Abortion In Idaho

New Telehealth Access Law Places Restrictions on Women’s Health

BOISE, Idaho – Today, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands (PPGNHI) announced legal action against the state of Idaho challenging the constitutionality of the Idaho Telehealth Access Act and House Bill 154, which bans the use of telemedicine to deliver medication abortion services and curtails access to safe and legal abortion. Both bills were signed into law by Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter in April.

“Women in Idaho deserve the right to have access to the safest, highest quality health care—these misguided laws do just the opposite by creating unnecessary hurdles to safe and legal abortion that are not grounded in science, but instead rooted in politics,” said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of PPGNHI. “While we agree with the benefits of telehealth outlined in the Telehealth Access Act, we believe this bill to be an affront to women and just bad public health policy.”  

The Telehealth Access Act was drafted by the Idaho Telehealth Council, a council created by the legislature and charged with developing a comprehensive set of standards for the use of telemedicine in Idaho. The law, as drafted by the council and enacted by the legislature, recognizes that interactive video conferencing telehealth services enhances access to health care, makes delivery of health care more efficient and distributes limited health care provider resources. With more than half of Idaho’s counties considered rural or frontier, telehealth offers Idaho significant benefits.

The Telehealth Access Act specifically authorizes providers to prescribe medications in the course of their video conference visit, with one exception: medications used for a medication abortion. To reinforce this restriction, the legislature also amended the Idaho abortion statute to require that a physician examine a patient “in person” before a medication abortion, effectively precluding using telehealth for a medication abortion.

In June, a ban on telehealth delivery of medication abortion was struck down in Iowa where the Iowa Supreme Court rejected a state rule requiring doctors to see abortion patients in person. This decision now allows Planned Parenthood to administer abortion-inducing medications using remote video technology in the state.

“There is no medical justification for carving out this one exclusion for prescribing medicine to patients in Idaho. The Constitution does not allow the legislature to pass laws that burden women’s access to abortion when those laws do not advance the health and safety of women,” said Hannah Brass Greer, Idaho Legislative Director and Public Affairs Manager. “We expect our legislators to work with us, the experts on women’s health, to advance policies that move us forward, not take us back.”

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S District Court, District of Idaho. PPGNHI is represented by the Boise law firm of Jones Gledhill Fuhrman Gourley, P.A and Planned Parenthood counsel Laura Einstein and Alice Clapman. 

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Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands is the region's leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate. We believe everyone has the right to choose when or whether to have a child, and that every child should be wanted and loved. The organization operates 28 health centers in Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, and Western Washington and provides medical services and sexuality education for thousands of women, men, and teenagers each year. Planned Parenthood is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and relies heavily on charitable donations to ensure our patients' ability to determine their own destinies and receive the health care they need.