Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.
King questions if federal funding was used in telemedicine abortion program
U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) wants to know if millions in federal funding for telemedicine made its way into Iowa and, more specifically, if any of that funding was used in a pilot program by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland to offer chemical abortions via teleconference.
During fiscal year 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was provided $11.6 million for telehealth programming. The agency specifically works to increase and improve the use of telemedicine to meet the needs of underserved people, including those living in rural and remote areas and those who are low-income and uninsured.
In a Jan. 13 letter circulated to members of Congress, King asks for additional signatories on a letter to the Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius.
“If you do not believe taxpayer funding should be going to fund abortions or telemed abortions, please join me in signing on to the following letter to Secretary Sebelius,” King wrote. “This letter will help us get to the bottom of how much funding has been appropriated for telemedicine, telemedicine equipment and how much of this funding potentially goes to provide telemed abortions.”
According to a list of program grantees from 2007 and 2008, the time period in which Planned Parenthood began offering chemical abortions via teleconferencing in Iowa, HHS provided funding to two Iowa grantees. One was the Iowa Medicaid Population Disease Management Demonstration through the Iowa Chronic Care Consortium and the other was the Midwest Rural Telemedicine Consortium through the Mercy Foundation. Information on the agency’s website also shows three additional Iowa programs that received Congressionally-directed funding specific to telemedicine. Two of the three are individual hospitals, and none are affiliated with Planned Parenthood.
King, who has long been against all legal abortion services, notes in his letter that “Planned Parenthood Clinics in Iowa have already completed 1,900 telemed abortions,” and that “while telemedicine may be a positive means of providing certain health services, abortion is not health care.”
“This practice must be stopped,” wrote King.
The use of video-conferencing by Planned Parenthood to provide chemical abortions, and the subsequent outcry from Kansas-based Operation Rescue and Iowa Right to Life, have been a part of the state political landscape for months. In addition, those in anti-abortion advocacy circles have expressed their dismay, noting that successes made by groups to shut down abortion clinics and stop doctors from practicing (often through violence) could be nullified by the program. King’s letter, however, appears to be the first national punch thrown in the battle.