DES MOINES — Anti-abortion Republicans in the Iowa House are pushing their way into one of the most divisive abortion debates of the year with legislation that would make telemedicine abortions illegal in the state.

State Rep. Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley, filed legislation last week to outlaw the practice, which is currently legal in Iowa but is the subject of litigation in district court.

“If I could stop all abortion in this state, I would,” Windschitl said.

Meanwhile, abortion providers have not requested reimbursements from Medicaid following the passage of legislation last year that requires Gov. Terry Branstad’s OK to release the funds. University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has, instead, decided to cover the cost itself.

“We have had 13 (abortions) that Medicaid probably would have covered” since the new law took effect, University of Iowa Health Care spokesman Tom Moore said.


Telemedicine is the practice of doctors prescribing medications to patients via video link, rather than an in-person examination. It’s more common in rural areas where it’s more difficult to find a doctor or specific specialists.

Last summer, the Iowa Board of Medicine approved rules that required doctors who were prescribing medications that induce abortions in patients, such as Mifepristone, to be physically present with the patient. The rule essentially made telemedicine abortion impossible.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, there were 2,314 medically induced abortions in Iowa in 2012 compared to 2,324 surgically induced abortions that year. The department does not designate which of the medically induced abortions used telemedicine.

Records for 2011 show that medically induced abortions occur about as often as surgically induced ones, with 2,402 of the former that year compared to 2,406 of the latter.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland sued to stop the Board of Medicine rules from taking effect. A Polk County judge put a stay on the rules until the case is resolved.

Now, Windschitl and 18 House Republican co-sponsors propose a bill to ban the practice outright.

“I appreciate the separation of the judicial, executive and legislative branches,” Windschitl said. “As a member of the legislative branch, I’m doing what I know to be correct and right.”

Jill June, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said filing the bill “is certainly (Windschitl’s) prerogative,” but she called it “misguided.”

“What the polls tell is by and large the public does not want to see abortion outlawed, the public is very empathetic about those women who are being denied these services,” June said. “Do we want the government and people like Matt Windschitl, who never have to be pregnant, who never have to take birth control, to control our health care?”

A fight

The bill should have an easy go in the Iowa House, where the Republican majority has voted reliably anti-abortion. The challenge will be in the Senate, where Democrats control the chamber 26-24.

A key vote is Davenport Sen. Joe Seng, an anti-abortion Catholic who often breaks with pro-abortion rights Democrats on abortion legislation.

“I think it should be looked at in the Senate, and I would support it,” Seng said Thursday.

There’s a question, however, if the bill would make it through the Democratic-controlled committees or get called to the floor for a vote.

Asked about it, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D- Council Bluffs, would say only, “We’re going to continue protect women’s rights to effective health care in the state of Iowa.”

Last year, a standoff over abortions paid for by Medicaid dollars ended with what both sides called a compromise: a requirement that the governor would have to sign off personally on Medicaid reimbursement for qualified abortions. Abortions qualify for reimbursement only if the birth would threaten the life of the mother, if the fetus is deformed or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

Since that time, no abortion provider has submitted a request for Medicaid reimbursement to the state, according to Iowa Department of Human Services spokeswoman Amy McCoy.

But taxpayers arguably still pay for them, at least at the publicly funded University of Iowa Health Care system.

Spokesman Moore said the 13 abortions the hospital thinks it could have submitted for Medicaid reimbursement were instead paid “out of hospital revenues.”

He said there wasn’t a change in hospital policy after the law was passed, just in the practice of how it bills for those specific abortions.

“A policy implies something more. This has just been a practice, essentially to avoid the politics,” he said, adding the system covers “tens of millions” in unreimbursed health care costs every year.

Moore said each case was the result of severe fetal anomalies or incest. The unreimbursed cost was $23,213.20.

“I think that’s improper,” June said. “It’s plainly wrong to single out these women and have them treated differently by the governor. On a whole other level of impropriety, you can put as much lipstick on it as you want, but it’s still happening because of the generosity of the Iowa taxpayers.”

(32) comments

billy hoyle

....and if you want to come on here saying abstinence prevents unwanted pregnancy, you are correct in premise, but ignorant. similar to communism, abstinence neglects to take into account established human behavior

billy hoyle

State rep Windschitle,
First off, GREAT name. Seriously, I have never heard that surname before, and i enjoy saying it. Secondly, IMO you should ditch the goatee. To paraphrase an old radio commercial, you come off as a relief pitcher or a record store clerk. Lastly, if you want this bill to have a chance, you could couple abortion restriction with a comprehensive plan to make Iowa the leader of birth control. You see, the latter prevents the former. No unwanted pregnancies, no abortions! How simple!.

billy hoyle

how does that saying go? abortions don't kill people, people kill people.


It's not normal for men to put things into womens bodies. Have some respect for yourselves women. I'm a Republican man and we are not at war with women but in a war for women......

That's rich, geoff, quite the lie there. It most certainly IS normal for men to do that. If not, there wouldn't be abortions at all....and you wouldn't be here, either.

You are at war with women. Women that you don't know are telling you to stay away from their bodies, and to not tell her what she can and cannot do. You are attempting to violate her 14th amendment rights. Republicans are actually on the record as being at war, thinking they do not deserve equal pay, and they are on record as stating that women are not competent to make decisions regarding their own bodies. It used to be women were not allowed birth control unless their husbands approved, until a woman successfully sued her husband and doctor.

Yes, you are at war.


ONLY in IOWA would this be an issue get real people. women got the right to vote years ago get over it.


The Scott County Dems need to wake up and primary Seng-he votes against labor, women, and the environment on a regular basis. I wouldn't be surprised if he caucuses withe the R's.


I love how the church goers use the bible for their own use. They can quote how abortion is wrong according to the good book but then again the good book says divorce is wrong also, but I do not hear them trying to outlaw divorce, not to mention adultery.


Taxpayers should not have to pay for abortions. Those that get so angry about the right to kill innocent unborn children should fund them if you want to. If you all commenting say we that are against abortion should take care of the unwanted children, then you should take care of the abortions unwanted by us.

Shef - they don't have to. Where do you arrive at this. There are federal laws against this, in fact. The 13 in question could have been paid for by the state (not federal taxpayer dollars) upon the approval of the governor. The hospital, rather than make this a political issue, wrote the procedure off.

We aren't talking about killing innocent children, fool.

The hospital spokesman said: "each case was the result of severe fetal anomalies or incest. "

I have no problem paying the 23,000 dollar cost for those procedures, shef, which is what the procedure cost. The rest are already covered by those having the medical procedures.

Where do you want the children delivered? Front door of your house? You don't want to do anything to help those children - you don't wish to feed, house, clothe them. You just want them born, so you have another republican talking point to whine about, too many poor children. I'm waiting for your answer, shef. You must sure hate children and women. You do realize, it's none of your business what a woman does with her body. Not your decision at all. If your wife wants an abortion, or your mother, they can go today and get an abortion, without your consent. Get over yourself, women and kids aren't your property.


It is not for us to judge or control them. God will take care of the judging. Mankind was given free will, the choice is yours to make. God only hopes you make the right one and judges you if you do not.
He gave us a book to guide us in these decisions if you chose to read it.

God isn't the governor. I don't need you to push your perverse religion onto me. Many religions, christian and non-christians believe in predestination - it's all planned out, God knows what you will do and what choice you will make.

Perhaps you should practice your own words, and stop judging. Not to mention - abortion was acceptable to christians until a few hundred years ago.

Please tell us the passage covering abortion, Shef - it's not there. And who's bible? What if I'm not some evangelical extremist like yourself? What if I'm a Muslim? Do we use my Quran? If I'm buddhist? Shinto? Even if Catholic, we don't have the same books in the bible. Jewish? Not the same bible as new testament.

You really don't have a grasp on the US constitution, do you? Separation of church and state. No state religion, no federal religion, and no requirement to have a religion. Let's not forget the treaty of tripoli, signed by president adams - article 11 - "we are not, and never have been, a christian nation."

senor citizen

This is beating a dead horse. I realize that nothing of importance goes on in Des Moines but this is old hat. The majority of Catholics and many other religions attempting to circumvent Roe v. Wade are Democrats and the GOP could come with a better agenda. Abortion is the worst form of birth control, but many times it would be cheaper than welfare.


Just saw the abortion numbers in Iowa since 2007. You democrats should be real proud of yourselves. No law will make evil right.

And no self-aggrandizing religious hack will make violation of the constitutional rights of women legal. Evil? Your opinion. Not the opinion of the majority, and not according to the rulings of the US supreme court.

You should be proud of yourself. A man unwilling to care for children, yet thumping his drum to focus attention on it. There were 13 free abortions performed in the state. Would you have been willing to have supported those 13? How about all of those others, the children of rape and incest?

Your wife is not your property, women and children are not your property.

I agree with coffee cup - against abortion? Don't have one. Stay out of my bedroom. Don't tell me what I can and can't do with my body, wife's body. Don't tell my daughter she can't go to Planned Parenthood to get information on family planning.

This bill is ludicrous. Recall Seng.

You must be real proud, treating your wife and daughter as you would an animal. Get some help.

coffee cup
coffee cup

If you're against abortion, choose not to have one. It's that simple.

From the looks of him, he'd probably just head across the state line and buy his supplies there.

I'd like each person that votes for the bill to have to pay to raise another child. They want mothers to have the baby, yet even though the mother may not be fit, they don't want to pay out, as you said, but they also don't want to adopt that child, either.

Seng needs voted out. It's not about his personal views, that's not why he was elected. It's about those of his constituents, the majority of which are against this bill.


Does ANYONE ever notice it is MEN who continue to try and eliminate a woman's right to choose? The Republicans don't like abortion (I don't know of anyone who does.) and they don't like birth control, yet, once that fetus is born, they stomp their feet and shake their curls over any assistance a woman may need to raise that child. They are hypocrites. I say we outlaw their Viagra, their johnson pumps, and masturbation.


I think you have hit on a solution.

senor citizen

You girls must be pretty desperate, but then I understand the quality of men left up there due to the good guys moving.


That's the best you got? You collect some more SS.

Sorry, there are plenty of us here - we let the old and spoiled versions of men move out.

I second the motion. All in favor? Passes unanimously.


Layla, Nomad and Unadulterated Truth,

You are correct that much of this issue is a male or fathers issue because we have not stepped up to our responsibility and we definitely have to break that cycle. Instead of providing dollars for abortion lets provide the dollars to supporting pregnant females who may be considering it and somehow holding dead beat men accountable. Also there are many people who have been on waiting lists for adoption who would love the baby that would be saved. I believe there is a more important part to this story than a dead beat male or woman's right to choose and that is the life of a child. An abortion is punishing the wrong person...the baby.


Excellent comment! The system is definitely screwed up in regards to adoptions. Totally agree with you and thanks for input.

Comment deleted.

Unadulterated Truth-I am sorry for your friend's pain and I am sure that was very difficult for her and I do not mean to come across as offensive to her. I just hate that many women have to go through this alone either before or after the decision. Because of my faith, I prefer abortion to not be one of the decisions but at the same time I need to make sure that somehow I am providing the support to the woman. If this were to happen to my daughter, the support would be there. However, how do we show the same support for all women who may not have the family support? How do we provide a system of support?

In my occupation, sometimes I get to work with young people who are mentally disabled because of fetal alcohol syndrome and myself and others are better people because of the joy that they bring to this world. In some of these cases, they would have been considered for abortion and it makes me sad to think that they could very easily not be in this world. I also have friends that knew that their baby was not going to live much after childbirth but they chose to have the baby anyway and the love and faith that baby was shown (during and after pregnancy) for that short period of time was amazing. The baby and the family, although for a very short time, were blessed to be together.

You are pointing out things that I have thought and prayed very hard about and I do not have a clear cut answer on the 12 year old safety issue. Years ago I would have considered them the exception to my original post. My wife and I have discussed these issues because we have two young daughters (11 and 9) and although I pray no one has to go through those situations, I know that some will. If we could provide the needed support to the 12 year old and if the baby could be given to a loving family then that would be the best of a tragic situation. It is not the fault of the 12 year old or the baby and that is what stinks.

Unadulterated Truth - Thank you for your views and you bring up some difficult points. Although I do not necessarily agree with all of your views, you definitely make me think and I hope that I make you do the same.


My my we are angry. Yes I am a male and for now a member of the Republican Party. If you do not want a baby, or cannot afford to raise one responaibly keep your legs crossed and tell all the Viagra, pumping masturbating men you come across to get lost. It is really pretty simple.

Right, fool, because women must be subservient to you?

Nope. You better hope with that attitude, your wife doesn't go Lorena Bobbitt on you.

The abortions specific to the article were 13 - with fetal deformities or a product of rape. Should we tell you to stay away from your daughters, then?

It's pretty simple, man, you stay away from women that say no. And learn that abortion is a woman's decision, in accordance with the 14th amendment. You have heard of the US constitution, haven't you? You have no voice. Move on, little boy. Now a member of the party? Right - you have been for years.

Typical republican - old white boy......

Perhaps if you'd man up, and pay for your children, instead of the state paying from them, people might listen. Instead - republicans aren't man enough.


Substitute loser for Cuban, perfect match.


Stupid spell check!!!!!!!!!!!

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