116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
PERRY - Gov. Terry Branstad expressed disappointment Monday with an Iowa Supreme Court ruling last week that declared as unconstitutional Iowa's ban on using telemedicine to issue abortion pills to women seeking medical services at rural or remote locations.
However, he said no decision has been made yet by his administration whether to appeal the ruling that overturned an Iowa Board of Medicine administrative rule via a federal court challenge.
'I was very disappointed in the court decision and we're going to be reading, reviewing and analyzing that and determining what is the best course of action for us to take,” Branstad told his weekly news conference which he held at a farm implement dealership where he signed a broadband bill into law.
'I disagree with court decision,” the Republican governor added. 'I do respect the fact that the courts are a separate branch of government from the executive branch of government and I have not had the chance to review this is great detail.”
The Iowa Board of Medicine, made up of members appointed by Branstad, banned the practice of using a webcam to remotely administer abortion-inducing pills to patients in 2013. The board cited health and safety concerns and issued a rule requiring physicians to personally perform a physical examination and dispense the drugs.
But opponents, including Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, contended the board was limiting women's access in rural or underserved areas to a legal medical procedure. Planned Parenthood used the so-called telemedicine abortion services at seven of its 13 Iowa locations, including Ames, Burlington, Cedar Falls, Council Bluffs, Dubuque, Sioux City and the Quad Cities.
The group sued the board in September 2013, arguing the ban places an undue burden on women wanting an abortion.
In a 6-0 opinion, the Iowa justices stated that 'After careful consideration, we hold that (the) rule ... places an undue burden on a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy as defined by the United States Supreme Court in its federal constitutional precedents. Because the Board agrees the Iowa Constitution protects a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy to the same extent as the United States Constitution, we find the rule violates the Iowa Constitution,” the opinion said.
Anti-abortion groups and conservative politicians criticized Friday's ruling with 2016 GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee issuing a statement calling the Iowa court ruling 'another unconstitutional act of judicial tyranny.”
Organizations promoting traditional marriage waged a successful campaign during the 2010 election to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices up for retention votes who were part of a unanimous decision that overturned a 1998 state law defining marriage as only between one man and one woman - paving the way for legal civil marriages by same-sex couples in Iowa.
Branstad took a neutral position during that retention controversy and indicated he would again in 2016 if any of the Iowa justices up for retention in the next general election are targeted for defeat by groups critical of rulings from the judicial bench. There has been no indication to date of any organized effort to defeat sitting Iowa Supreme Court justices up for retention in the next general election.
'I do respect the fact that the judiciary is a separate branch of government and the ultimate decision is with the people of Iowa as to whether they want to retain the judges or not,” the governor said. 'So the position that I have consistently taken is not to advocate for or against the justices that are up for retention.”