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Robin Marty @robinmarty
, 17 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
okay, this needs more perspective, so hunker down for a thread.
Iowa was the home of the telemed abortion program, which launched in 2008. Because Planned Parenthood clinics could offer med abortion in clinics with a dr skyping in to consult, access expanded dramatically. Without the program, there were I think 3 clinics in state.
With the program, there were over a dozen. Understand that this is one state that had just one independent provider (waves at powerhouse @EmmaGoldmanIowa). So this was a huge expansion.
Antis were horrified (this is when Steve King started talking about “Robo-skype abortion” and claiming you can’t use federal money on broadband for hospitals because abortion, etc). They swore abortion would skyrocket, and everyone would die because no doctors.
spoiler: the abortion rate stayed mostly unchanged, people just had them earlier in gestation, because they had better access. go figure. And there were no noted health complications, because safety. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/P… (waves at @DrDGrossman)
Obviously, this wasn't going to fly, so Brandstad slowly appointed a bunch of abortion opponents to the state health board, including priests, because hey, priests oversee Catholic hospitals so its legit. suddenly, the board of health decided telemed abortion is super dangerous
oh oops, correct that earlier tweet - abortion numbers didn't stay the same. they DECREASED. so....that. iowawatch.org/2016/07/05/tel…
anyway, the state health board tried to get rid of telemed abortion, calling it unsafe, even though no actual patient ever filed a complaint about it to the board of health. They banned it in 2013 and it was in court fights for a few years. desmoinesregister.com/story/news/pol…
The good news - courts finally decided it was an unconstitutional ban. Double good news, it reiterated that pregnant people in Iowa have a right to an abortion. That's especially good since it set the groundwork for saying the same when Iowa tried to uphold their heartbeat ban
But here's a thing we don't talk about enough - legal victories are good. But they are also kind of a loss for our side, too. Every court case we fight also drains financial resources. At the same time this court battle was happening, Iowa was pulling PP resources, too.
A telemed program is only as good as the # of clinics you can keep open to operate it. And while the program started out with about a dozen, currently, there are only I think three cities left that do telemed: Ames, Cedar Falls and Council Bluffs (stop me if I'm wrong Iowans)
The other major problem with long drawn out court fights - lots of people stop knowing if abortion is actually available, or even legal, at all.
This has always been a huge problem with states like North Dakota or Mississippi, where clinics get calls from patients who ask if they are still open, or if abortion is still legal. For all of the people calling to check, there are many more who assume no & don't call at all
So, long story short, this is the tale of how in just one decade, Iowa went from being a leader in expanding abortion accessibility and showing us the future of what good access could be to now having hundreds leave the state to terminate a pregnancy.
There's still other nuance that I could offer too, like that horrible period where Branstad decided that he should get to decide on an individual basis if a person on medicaid "deserved" an abortion after 20 weeks for an anomaly. I'm still mad about that. But I'll stop here
But final thought - with or without Roe overturned, this is the new normal for even semi "safe" abortion rights states. We have to start working from this place - making sure people know where &when abortion is legal, funding the supports so we can get people out of state, etc.
oh, and don't forget to buy my book on this. It's out next month. sevenstories.com/books/4159-a-h… (adding this so my publisher doesn't yell at me :) )
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