AP top news in Iowa at 3:58 p.m. CDT

Iowa board to hear views on abortion pill systemDES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Board of Medicine will listen to public testimony Wednesday on whether the state should bar the practice of distributing abortion-inducing pills via a video conferencing system.

Activists are seeking to halt a long-distance video system used by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. It lets doctors deliver pills to patients in 15 clinics around Iowa after a video consultation. The organization has used the system in Iowa since 2008 and has dispensed the pills at least 3,000 times since 2010, said Jill June, president of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.

Opponents of this practice say it is dangerous for the women involved. But June said she’s not aware of any complaints since her organization started offering the service. The Board of Medicine has not received any complaints from patients, said Mark Bowden, the board’s executive director.

Iowa Right to Life’s executive director, Jenifer Bowen, said patients are often afraid to speak out. She said these abortions are risky for patients because they don’t meet personally with doctors and may not get necessary follow-up care.

“We’re always as concerned for the woman seeking an abortion as we are for the baby,” said Bowen, whose organization submitted petitions with more than 20,000 signatures to the board to ban the practice. “It’s very concerning to us because of the lack of safety that there is in chemical abortions. There are statistically higher complication rates.”

June said opponents are trying to create barriers to abortion access in Iowa. She said this video system, the first of its kind in the nation, helps poor women in rural Iowa.

“They have trumped up these false claims that telemedicine is dangerous. They don’t attack any other forms of telemedicine. There are high-risk drugs provided using telemedicine in Iowa, but this drug is not one of those,” June said. “People who oppose legal abortion attacked this program as soon as they found out about it.”

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Group seeks to repair rare piano in DavenportDAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — A rare double-grand piano built in Paris more than a century ago is awaiting repairs in Davenport.

The Quad-City Times reports (http://bit.ly/15gSQGEhttp://bit.ly/15gSQGE ) a Bettendorf couple owned the Pleyel piano for many years. After they died, their estate donated it to the nonprofit Butterworth Center in Moline, Ill., which passed it on to the River Music Experience in Davenport in 2011.

The piano, which has keys on two ends of the instrument, was built in 1896 and may be among only six in the world.

It’s displayed at River Music Experience, a nonprofit music venue, but can’t be played until about $15,000 in repairs are made.

Members of the Federated Music Teachers Association hope to raise about $25,000, which also would pay for future maintenance and tuning.

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Information from: Quad-City Times, http://www.qctimes.comhttp://www.qctimes.com

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ACLU hires former GOP chair for gay marriage lobbyCHICAGO (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union has hired a consulting firm started by the Illinois Republican Party’s former chairman to help with efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois.

Pat Brady left his GOP post earlier this year after he said he supported gay marriage. He later started what he describes as a government affairs firm with Matt Strawn, the former chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa.

It’s called Next Generation Public Affairs, Inc.

The firm announced Tuesday that it’ll help the ACLU’s Illinois chapter lobby GOP lawmakers. So far, two Illinois Republicans say they’re in favor.

Same-sex marriage legislation is expected in the fall. Efforts earlier this year stalled when the bill’s sponsor didn’t call said it didn’t have the needed support. He didn’t call it for a vote.

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Regulators discuss future of Neb. nuke plantOMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The idle Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant is loaded with fuel for the first time in more than two years, and utility officials say it will be ready to operate safely if regulators allow it to restart.

Omaha Public Power District officials met with Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff Tuesday to discuss the future of the plant 20 miles north of Omaha.

Plant manager Mike Prospero said the utility plans to heat up the plant in late September without using nuclear power. That will allow workers to inspect parts that haven’t been used regularly since Fort Calhoun shut down for maintenance in April 2011.

Regulators have kept the plant closed to address safety and security concerns discovered after a small fire and massive flooding along the Missouri River in 2011.

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Clear Lake man donates 25 acres to countyMASON CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Clear Lake man has given Cerro Gordo County 25 acres of land for use as a wildlife area.

The Globe Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/1dnvbOVhttp://bit.ly/1dnvbOV ) that Cerro Gordo County supervisors accepted the donation Tuesday.

County conservation director Fred Heinz told supervisors the land was “a ready-made, good-to-go wildlife area.” It includes restored prairie, trees and shrubs and has a creek that runs through it.

Clear Lake resident Charles Walker donated the land, which is northeast of Clear Lake in Lincoln Township.

Heinz says the land is for public enjoyment with no restrictions. He called it, “Charles Walker’s gesture of good will for perpetuity.”

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Information from: Globe Gazette, http://www.globegazette.com/http://www.globegazette.com/

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