Telemedicine services for improving safe abortion accessibility in India: Need of the hour

February 12, 2022
Debanjana Choudhuri, gender and climate justice specialist.

The spread of novel coronavirus has convulsed every aspect of life all over the world. With life coming to a standstill due to repeated lockdowns, the pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of not only our society, but also of our healthcare system. India is one of the nations, which has been severely impacted due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Crucial measures, such as imposition of lockdowns, were taken to contain the spread of the virus, however, the decreased mobility also resulted in higher incidences of intimate partner violence, changes in migrant living patterns, delay in accessing other healthcare services including contraceptive and safe abortion care and potential changes to decisions about parenting.

Contrariwise, telemedicine was a silver-lining during this period, and it revolutionised access to healthcare services worldwide. India too acknowledged the credibility and viability of these services by introducing telemedicine guidelines. Today, from covid tests to other screenings telemedicine in India, is flourishing each day in every sphere. But is it the same for safe abortion services? Sadly, the answer is NO! Although India recognised the essentiality of contraception and safe abortion services, the telemedicine guidelines reflected otherwise, as it still does not include abortion under its purview.


Backyard Abortions: Zimbabwe’s Silent Pandemic

By Lovejoy Mutongwiza
Oct 20, 2021

COVID-19 pandemic which brought about lockdown restrictions has further
restricted women and girls’ access to safe abortion services in traditionally
marginalized communities in Zimbabwe.

With COVID-19
restrictions, obtaining the necessary appointments and documents to access
health facilities has become a nightmare, especially for women in poor areas
and this has aided the need for most women and girls who fell pregnant,
unintentionally or otherwise, to Nicodemusly seek the termination of


Uganda – Health Experts Spell Out Measures to Tackle Unsafe Abortions amidst COVID-19

Esther Makula
October 20, 2021

Covid-19 lockdowns have led to a spike in unplanned pregnancies, increasing the risk of unsafe abortions especially among teenage girls, health experts have said.

Data for the first half of 2021 by the District Health Information Software 2 (DHIS2) showed that 22% of all abortion cases reported during that period were among adolescents aged 10-19.


Australia – In lockdown I entered the abortion clinic alone, hiding trepidation behind my mask

With no way of knowing how long her fertility would prevail, Madison Griffiths did what she felt she had to, with the tools she was afforded

Madison Griffiths
Sat 28 Aug 2021

Two weeks before discovering I was pregnant, I sat in a fertility clinic, riddled with uncertainty.

This is because by the time my mother was my age, 27, she had become infertile. Diagnosed with a genetic condition known as early onset menopause, she –in ways similar to her own mother, and her mother’s mother before her – had been forced to accept the stark reality of a childless future.


The U.K. changed its abortion laws during the pandemic. The U.S. should do the same

By Ian Kumamoto
Aug. 19, 2021

The pandemic has made nearly every aspect of our lives more difficult, so it’s cool to hear about any and every silver lining that’s come out of this so far. It appears that in some places — such as the U.K., where there was a policy change because of lockdown mandates — the pandemic actually made abortions more accessible for everyone. And if we can get our shit together here in the States, we might just be able to replicate their success (hopefully without the pandemic part).

Researchers at the University of Texas in Austin examined how, during lockdown in early 2020, doctors in the U.K. were allowed to prescribe two abortion pills via telemedicine appointments and send them straight to patients’ homes, the New York Times reported. Those pills, mifepristone and misoprostol, are generally taken up to 48 hours apart and work to terminate a pregnancy safely by blocking the body’s natural production of progesterone as well as causing cramping and bleeding, according to Planned Parenthood. They can be taken at home and are widely considered to be one of the safest ways to have an abortion.


UK – Pills in the post: how Covid reopened the abortion wars

As some European countries rolled out ‘telemed’ abortion, others shut down access completely.

by Sarah Hurtes and Daniel Boffey
Wed 21 Apr 2021

Kay, 34, realised her period was late a month into Britain’s lockdown. The coronavirus death count was spiralling across the country. Covid-19 was putting the NHS under unprecedented strain and Boris Johnson had given the British people what he described as “a very simple instruction” in an address to the nation from Downing Street: “You must stay at home.”

A worrying, unsettling time, and Kay, a mother of a six-year-old girl, needed to get hold of a pregnancy test kit. She went online and, two days later, took delivery of the test, learning of a positive result via two pink lines. It was the news she had dreaded.


How MSF is empowering women through self-care

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders
Mar 12 2021

For many women and girls in New Zealand, the means to initiate self-care is readily available, with sufficient access to contraception, family planning resources and professional advice.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care as, "the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health and cope with illness and disability, with or without the support of a health-care provider."


Women struggle to access abortion as pandemic adds to hurdles in Europe

By Catarina Demony
NOVEMBER 16, 2020

LISBON (Reuters) - Helplines across Europe have reported higher demand for their services as the coronavirus pandemic adds to the hurdles many women face to access abortion.

While abortion is legal in most of Europe, some women have struggled to get appointments in public health systems overwhelmed by the pandemic. Others could not escape abusive partners because of lockdowns, non-governmental organisations and some women who chose to have an abortion told Reuters.


Pro-choice groups push Argentine President to keep abortion promise

Oct 26, 2020

Earlier this year, the Argentinian President had promised to send an abortion bill to Congress. Now, despite the pandemic and opposition from religious sectors, pro-choice activists want him to follow up on his pledge to legalise abortion.

In 2014 Belen, a woman in her late 20s in northern Argentina’s Tucumán, went to hospital severely haemorrhaging. She was later sentenced to eight years in prison, after a court said she had an abortion. But Belén always insisted her innocence, saying she had suffered a miscarriage. The initial court ruling was later overturned. After a two year jail sentence, Belen was freed.


Polish woman’s quest for abortion exposes conflicted society

By Alicja Ptak
OCTOBER 19, 2020

WARSAW (Reuters) - In April, in the midst of a nationwide coronavirus lockdown in Poland, Katarzyna found out that the baby she was carrying had a severe genetic disorder and would probably die before birth or shortly after.

She immediately decided to terminate the pregnancy. When she finally managed to, five weeks later and after meeting some 10 doctors, securing a fallback plan in Germany and researching home methods, she knew she would not try to get pregnant again.