Governor Branstad sidesteps truth about Board of Medicine appointments

Governor Branstad is a sore loser who still doesn’t get it.

After leading the charge to cut or even deny Iowa women access to critical medical services, the governor is now whining about one of his few legislative defeats in 2017.

In his recent opinion piece in The Gazette, Gov. Branstad makes it clear that he and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds are ready to do almost anything to impose their own personal and religious beliefs on all Iowa women.

Iowans must never forget what the governor, lieutenant governor and the Iowa Board of Medicine tried to do.

In 2013, Gov. Branstad’s appointees to that Board of Medicine voted to ban the existing legal access Iowa women had to telemedicine abortions.

Two years later, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled that by doing so, the Iowa Board of Medicine and the Branstad/Reynolds administration had violated the Iowa Constitution.

Here’s part of that unanimous ruling:

“While undoubtedly at an abstract level everyone would prefer to see a doctor in person every time they have a medical issue, the reality of modern medicine is otherwise. In this case, the record indicates the physician plays an important role in reviewing the ultrasound images and dispensing the prescribed medications, but those roles can be performed without the physician being personally present.

“The record also provides almost no medical support for the necessity of a pelvic exam before dispensing the medication. At the same time, the record indicates that the telemedicine rule would make it more challenging for many women who wish to exercise their constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy in Iowa to do so.”

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Suzanna de Baca, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, summarized the decision perfectly: “Medical experts opposed this law because it harms women by blocking access to safe medical care. When it comes to health care, politics should never trump medicine.”

The simple truth is that Gov. Branstad played politics with the Iowa Board of Medicine and got caught. That’s why two of his appointees were not reconfirmed this spring by the Iowa Senate.

Get over it, governor. Iowans have much more to worry about than two people who weren’t reappointed to a committee.

We all live in the real world. We all live in a state where a Republican-controlled Legislature has just made health care much more insecure for everyone. Legislative Republicans make it harder for Iowa women — especially rural Iowa women — to get cancer screenings, STD tests, and birth control. Republicans also passed a severe 20-week abortion ban without any exceptions for rape, incest, or even severe fetal anomalies. Republicans even slashed state funding to help victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

Don’t feel sorry for Gov. Branstad and his rejected appointees to the Iowa Board of Medicine. They aren’t victims. The real victims of the 2017 session are Iowa women. They will have to travel farther and pay more for health care — and ultimately have worse health outcomes — because of the actions taken by the Republican-controlled Legislature, the governor and lieutenant governor.

• Janet Petersen is a State Senator from Des Moines.

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