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DES MOINES | Doctors could be fined and have their licenses suspended for prescribing abortion-inducing drugs using remote technology under a bill approved by a House subcommittee on a party-line vote.

The bill, House File 2073, seeks to outlaw telemedicine abortions in the state. The fine and license suspension provisions were amended onto the bill Wednesday to replace criminal penalties that previously were in the bill.

Telemedicine is the short-hand term for doctors prescribing medicine from remote locations, typically using a video link. It’s particularly popular in rural areas where access to health care professionals is limited.

Last year, the Iowa Board of Medicine issued rules requiring doctors who prescribe abortion-causing medication, such as Mifepristone, to be physically present with a patient when they do.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland filed a lawsuit against the rules, and a Polk County district court put a stay on the rules until the case is resolved.

Erin Davison-Rippey, lobbyist for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, brought up the litigation during Wednesday’s subcommittee meeting, where the bill moved forward on a 2-1 vote.

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“If a woman is unable to get to a provider, she is left with only surgical abortions in Iowa,” Davison-Rippey said. “This bill could jeopardize all telemedicine.”

Iowa Catholic Conference Executive Director Tom Chapman said the bill protects the health of women, because abortion-inducing drugs have “very serious effects” on health.

“We should go the extra mile,” he said.

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