Telemedicine Abortion: What It Is and Why We Need It Now More Than Ever

Telemedicine Abortion: What It Is and Why We Need It Now More Than Ever

by Carrie N. Baker

Antiabortion politicians in states across the country are using the COVID-19 pandemic to block access to abortion—arguing abortion is not essential health care and supporting limitations in the interest of conserving personal protective equipment for COVID-19 cases.

Medical experts, however, are coming to the exact opposite conclusion.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and seven other medical organizations issued a statement last week declaring that abortion is time-sensitive, essential health care and that lack of access may “profoundly impact a person’s life, health and well-being.”


USA – How Anti-Abortion Activists Are Taking Advantage of the Coronavirus Crisis

How Anti-Abortion Activists Are Taking Advantage of the Coronavirus Crisis

By Robin Marty
March 24, 2020

In just two weeks the novel coronavirus managed exactly what anti-abortion activists struggled for nearly five decades to accomplish: it is the biggest threat to legal abortion in America ever imagined. The entire globe is facing completely uncharted territory in public health, and many are working to address the pandemic by implementing telemedicine and other online tools to care for everyday health needs while COVID-19 patients inundate hospitals. This could help people in need of abortions, too — if legalized, doctors could remotely prescribe medication to be taken at home that would terminate pregnancies up to 10 weeks. Yet despite having a safe and effective means of ending an early pregnancy without any need to physically see a medical professional, abortion opponents are instead using this moment to close as many abortion clinics as possible throughout the U.S. — an action that will lead to another health system crisis even if COVID-19 is contained.


What It’s Like to Get an Abortion in Idaho

What It's Like to Get an Abortion in Idaho
The closest clinic was more than 6 hours away, so this woman actually went to another state.

by Claire Lampen
Mar 22 2020

Idaho’s abortion policy hasn’t received much stage time in the national debate about reproductive health, but the conservative-led state has, unsurprisingly, some of the more restrictive laws on the books.

Some measures, like one passed in 2018 requiring the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to gather information on abortion-related health complications (exceedingly rare, particularly in the first trimester, when most abortions take place), seem to exist solely to stigmatize the procedure; others, like one proposed but not passed in 2019, seek to punish patients and providers by reclassifying termination as murder. Last year, two Republican representatives tried to repeal the segment of state law that guards people who get abortions and the doctors who perform them against criminal prosecution. They weren’t successful, but the motivating sentiment gives you an idea of the political landscape.


USA – Coronavirus Is Endangering Abortion Access. Telemedicine Could Solve it.

Coronavirus Is Endangering Abortion Access. Telemedicine Could Solve it.
Almost 40% of abortions take place in the privacy of one's home. Why must pregnant women to go to the clinic at all?

By Melissa Jeltsen, HuffPost US

Imagine you take a cruise in late February. When you get back to the U.S., you start to self-quarantine out of concern that you were exposed to coronavirus on the ship. Then you find out you are pregnant. You do not want to be. What do you do?

If you were in Canada, you could get a doctor to prescribe you what is colloquially known as the “abortion pill,” which you could pick up from your local pharmacy. Using medication abortion, women end their pregnancies by taking a combination of two drugs, usually spaced 24 hours apart, which essentially cause a miscarriage.


The FDA Could Improve Abortion Access Under Coronavirus But It Won’t

The FDA Could Improve Abortion Access Under Coronavirus But It Won't
Abortion pills have to be picked up in person at a clinic. Advocates say that has to change during the pandemic.

by Christine Grimaldi
Mar 19 2020

When Donald Trump used “two very big words” to declare a national emergency over the novel coronavirus on Friday, he bragged about giving his top health official the “ability to waive laws to enable telehealth” during the pandemic. But it appears that the president’s latitude will not apply to medication abortion care, a federal agency confirmed to VICE.

People who want to end their pregnancies will have to navigate the same restrictions as always, which will become all the more complicated in a pandemic environment.


Women On Web Making Self-Managed Safe Abortion Accessible

Women On Web Making Self-Managed Safe Abortion Accessible

By Nivedita Jayakumar
February 5, 2020

Legal abortion means that the law recognizes a woman as a person. It says that she belongs to herself. But in most countries, women’s ability to access safe and legal abortions is restricted. Even places where abortion is permitted by law, women often have severely limited access to safe abortion services because of the stigma attached to it, the lack of proper regulation, health services, or political will. There are seven legal grounds on which abortion is permitted—to save a woman’s life, to preserve a woman’s physical health, to preserve a woman’s mental health, rape or incest, foetal impairment, socio-economic factors and on request. According to a report by Women on Waves, approximately 25% of the world’s population lives in countries with ‘highly restrictive abortion laws’—that is, laws which either completely ban abortion, or allow it only to save the mother’s life. And, performing abortion on a woman’s request is allowed only in 30% of countries. To bridge the gap between the 30% and the rest of the world, the online service Women on Web makes safe abortion accessible to every women around the world.


There’s a New Website That Teaches People How to Do Abortions

There's a New Website That Teaches People How to Do Abortions
A series of how-to videos shows providers how to do abortions with pills. But they can also help people who want to do it themselves.

by Marie Solis
Jan 28 2020

In the same amount of time it takes you to boil an egg, or answer an email, a new online video will show you how to end a pregnancy with pills.

Animated figures, accompanied by voice-over narration, take viewers through the process step by step: When to take the mifepristone, the first part of the two-part drug regimen for medication abortion; how long after that to take the misoprostol, how to place those pills under the tongue; and when to expect the cramping and bleeding, which signal that the passing of the pregnancy has begun. The 11-minute video also provides instructions on how to relieve pain or discomfort, and when to seek medical help. At the very beginning, it tells viewers how safe and effective this abortion method is, and how low the rate of complication.


There’s a Better Way to Talk About Abortion

There's a Better Way to Talk About Abortion
People still use medically inaccurate and stigmatizing terms to talk about abortion. You can help change that.

by Marie Solis
Jan 22 2020
Illustrations by Cathryn Virginia

For decades, conservative politicians and activists have dictated the rhetoric around abortion, and for that reason many of the words we use to talk about the procedure are medically inaccurate, emotionally charged, and suffused with stigma. And that includes even the most basic terms we use to describe the debate over abortion rights: The anti-abortion camp has long described itself as “pro-life” instead, monopolizing a powerful word that advocates say clouds their real intention—to ban abortion. The word “choice,” some say, is an imprecise one as well, creating the impression that one’s ability to get an abortion is simply a matter of choosing to do so, when in fact there are many systematic obstacles in the way that keep people from accessing the procedure.


USA – 2020 Dems Say They’ll Protect Abortion Access. We Asked Them About Pills

2020 Dems Say They'll Protect Abortion Access. We Asked Them About Pills
We asked every Democrat who qualified for the debate about expanding access to medication abortion.

by Marie Solis; illustrated by Hunter French
Dec 16 2019

The October and November debates finally saw Democratic presidential candidates answer questions about abortion from moderators, months after reproductive health organizations and pro-choice advocates launched a pressure campaign to get 2020 contenders to talk about the issue on primetime television.

So far, candidates' plans for protecting abortion rights have consisted primarily of pledges to codify Roe v. Wade, which would require pro-choice majorities in the House and Senate to pass federal legislation upholding the principles of Roe in the event that the Supreme Court overturns or guts the 1973 decision.


USA – Unproven, Unethical and Dangerous: Counseling Requirements on Stopping a Medication Abortion Threaten Patients and Providers

Unproven, Unethical and Dangerous: Counseling Requirements on Stopping a Medication Abortion Threaten Patients and Providers

Olivia Cappello, Guttmacher Institute
December 16, 2019

Patients obtaining a medication abortion from a health care provider expect to have a conversation about the pills they need to take for the procedure, a treatment that has been proven safe over 20 years of use and is more than 95% effective. Their provider will tell them about expected side effects and potential complications, which are similar to those of a miscarriage.

But in an increasing number of states, their provider is forced to tell them about medication abortion “reversal”—an unproven and medically unsupported treatment that can allegedly stop a medication abortion after the patient takes the first pill in the abortion regimen, mifepristone. This counseling is mandated under the guise of providing patients with options. In reality, it uses flawed research to undermine personal reproductive health choices.