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A court ruling in an abortion dispute in Iowa could throw a massive roadblock at the abortion industry, whose long-term future remains uncertain with providers diminishing in number as senior and elderly abortionists retire or quit, and replacements are not keeping up.

A lawyer for the Thomas More Society, which recently opened a new office in Nebraska, said the ruling that affirmed an Iowa Board of Medicine ban on “tele-conference abortions” is significant.

Attorney Matt Heffron said the state board was “putting the brakes” on something that “could have been horrendous.”

The abortion-supporting Guttmacher Institute said abortion providers are dropping in number, by nearly 40 percent from a peak in 1982 to about 1,800 in recent years.

The video-conferencing idea would have allowed a single abortion provider to order many more abortions, and cover vastly larger areas of the country.

“If this practice of video-conferencing abortions had been allowed to stand, this would have greatly expanded abortion throughout the country and it would have greatly multiplied the ability of the declining number of abortion doctors to deal with all sorts of patients,” Heffron said.

Officials with Operation Rescue note that in 2013 alone, 87 surgical abortion clinics closed.

“The total number of surgical abortion clinics left in the U.S. is now 582. This represents an impressive 12 percent net decrease in surgical abortion clinics in 2013 alone, and a 73 percent drop from a high in 1991 of 2,176,” the OR report said.

“Of 87 clinics that discontinued surgical abortions, 81 are permanently shuttered while sic abortion businesses ceased surgical abortions, but continued to sell that abortion pill. The figures do not include the 11 abortion clinics that were closed temporarily in 2013, then reopened later in the year.”

Heffron said had the tele-medicine procedure been allowed, “The doctors could deal with those patients quickly and do that across the country. They could be sitting in any facility in any city and teleconference with a patient almost anywhere and distribute abortion drugs.

“What would that do to Planned Parenthood’s abortion business? They wouldn’t have to worry about whether there were enough abortionists because one could handle many, many patients with the push of a button,” Heffron said.

Live Action President Lila Rose agreed that the ruling will stop many “bad abortions.”

“It’s strange to see Planned Parenthood, who puts so much emphasis on not interfering with ‘a woman and her doctor,’ taking issue with the decision of a state medical board. Never mind that ‘tele-med abortions’ literally put miles, and increased risk of complications, between the mother and the abortionist,” Rose said.

“Iowa was a test case for Planned Parenthood because they wanted to push the tele-med or web-cam abortions and extend it across the country. Iowa is the only state where we know it was used extensively,” Heffron added.

“The fact that it can’t be used there because it’s medically unsafe is really a huge thing. If Planned Parenthood could have said it was successful in Iowa, this would have greatly multiplied the abortion business all across the country,” Heffron said.

Rose pointed to the reality that Planned Parenthood is a business. She says Planned Parenthood’s need for a continuing revenue stream is behind its effort to push video-conference abortions.

“There’s one thing to keep in mind whenever Planned Parenthood raises a hue and cry over life-saving restrictions on the ‘choice’ to kill one’s baby: Planned Parenthood is a business, and abortion is its bread and butter. So of course this corporation is going to seek as many forms of abortion revenue as it can, and to vigorously defend those it has found – even though all of these are dangerous to mothers and deadly to their children,” Rose said.

Heffron noted video conference abortions already are outlawed in 16 states.

Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, whose organization has worked to have the procedures outlawed, says he’s “ecstatic” about the decision because it brings an end to a dangerous practice.

“We have been proactive to pass and enact laws prohibiting tele-med in other states … Because we exposed it to the public before it really got off the ground we were able to frame the debate and honestly it horrified the public and medical community, it is not the standard of care,” Newman said.

Heffron said the judge’s decision addressed the issue that such long-distance treatment’s don’t follow appropriate medical procedures.

“What that means is that it’s simply not safe for a physician to give that volatile of a drug without the physician examining her and be there for follow-up,” he said.

The procedure had had patients seeing a doctor only via electronics, Skype or something. The doctor then would electronically release a lock in the patient’s room so she could access an abortifacient.

Heffron said there are dangers when a woman is given such drugs without have physically been seen by a doctor.

Life News President Steven Ertelt also focused on the dangers posed by the abortion drugs.

“The ruling upholding the Board of Medicine’s ban protects women from Planned Parenthood, which is putting their lives and health at risk by giving them the dangerous abortion drug that has already killed a dozen women and injured thousands more – and doing so without in-person consultation with a physician,” he said.

“The second point is that this decision by the Board of Medicine has resulted in closing Planned Parenthood abortion clinics that are more interested in selling abortions than helping women,” Ertelt said.

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