Could Coronavirus Make Telemedicine Abortion the New Normal?
Clinics are expanding access with virtual visits and sending pills by mail.
By Anna Louie Sussman
May 19, 2020
Terri first realized she was pregnant in late March. She was isolating at home with her boyfriend in rural upstate New York, where she runs a housecleaning business. At 46, she was sure she didn’t want to become a 60-year-old parent to a teenager. “I was like, ‘No, that’s not going to happen,’” says Terri, who asked to be identified by her first name only. She called the nearest Planned Parenthood clinic, a 40-minute drive away, and took the first appointment available, which was a week-and-a-half later. Uninsured, Terri says she planned to show up at the clinic and “throw [herself] at their mercy.”
But before her appointment, she read about telemedicine abortion. All that was required was a phone consultation with a doctor to establish whether she was less than 10 weeks pregnant (the limit for medication abortion’s approved use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration). Once proven, the clinic would deliver abortion pills by mail, allowing for a quiet, non-surgical procedure at home. For Terri, this was a far better option than potentially exposing herself to COVID-19 at a clinic.