Federal restrictions are limiting access to telemedicine abortion care. That needs to change
August 9, 2020
The ongoing pandemic has led to huge shifts in how we live and work, and health care is no exception. In the past few months, telehealth visits have surged more than 50 percent, enabling patients to access much of the health care they need without taking the added risk of leaving their homes.
But for people seeking reproductive health services, longstanding state and federal restrictions continue to needlessly limit their access to telemedicine abortion care.
The Fight to Protect Abortion Access Amid the Pandemic
June 15 2020
It wasn’t much past 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning in late April, and anti-choice protesters outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only abortion clinic in Mississippi, were already cantankerous: There were three men with bullhorns, including one on top of a ladder; a 1,200-watt speaker pointing toward the clinic’s front door; and another protester blowing a shofar. “Welcome to the circus,” said Kim Gibson, a clinic escort who works to keep the mayhem away from patients.
Even as the coronavirus pandemic has gripped the nation (new cases are still on the rise in Mississippi), protesters disregarded Jackson’s stay-at-home order and have consistently failed to wear masks or keep appropriate social distance — not only from one another, but also from patients, whose cars they readily approach in an effort to “counsel” them and hand out anti-abortion propaganda.
Coronavirus Created an Obstacle Course for Safe Abortions
But during the pandemic, a few countries liberalized their requirements, allowing at-home medical terminations.
By Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Alisha Haridasani Gupta and Monika Pronczuk
June 14, 2020
BRUSSELS — When a 19-year-old woman from southern Poland decided to end her pregnancy at 18 weeks, she knew the only way to get an abortion was to rush to a neighboring European country.
Abortion is illegal in most circumstances in Poland, and so for years, many women have traveled within Europe to seek the procedure.
But it was April, and across the continent, borders were closing fast because of the coronavirus pandemic. So she and a friend loaded up their Renault with instant noodles and candy for a 14-hour race to Utrecht, in the Netherlands. They made it just in time for her to have the procedure and return home, her friend said.
Abortion providers say they're experiencing a "post-Roe" world. Others say it's worse.
By Kate Smith, CBS News
April 28, 2020
Sarah got a glimpse earlier this month of what a world without legal abortion might look like.
Out of work and unexpectedly pregnant, Sarah, 20, had her appointment cancelled when Texas halted most abortion services as a way to preserve medical resources to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Desperate, she searched for a doctor who might offer the procedure under the table, or a pharmacist who might illegally fill a prescription for abortion-inducing pills. She had no car or money, so making the 15-hour drive to New Mexico, the site of the closest provider, was out of reach. But for Sarah, keeping the pregnancy wasn't an option.
Abortion clinics expanding virtual options during pandemic
Providers say they're trying to work around restrictions that limit telemedicine abortion.
By MOHANA RAVINDRANATH and ALICE MIRANDA OLLSTEIN
Abortion providers say they’re seeing heightened demand for telemedicine abortions during the coronavirus pandemic, and providers are preparing for a growing number of virtual visits as social distancing measures continue.
These clinics are looking to video call apps like Facetime and AI-powered chatbots to make prescribing abortion medication almost entirely virtual during the pandemic. Some providers are dialing back in-person visits and forgoing ultrasounds and pelvic exams they’ve typically required before prescribing abortion pills virtually.
The coronavirus is wiping out a crucial lifeline for abortion services in the US, and many patients may lose access entirely
Apr 16, 2020
Dr. Anuj Khattar was supposed to fly to Oklahoma City on Sunday, March 29 for his monthly stint working at Trust Women, a reproductive health clinic. Khattar, a family medicine practitioner, lives in Seattle and travels a few days each month to provide abortion care.
Washington was one of the first states hit hard by the coronavirus, and Khattar wrestled over whether it was safe to travel under the circumstances. Ultimately, he decided going was the right thing to do.
Abortion clinics see increased demand amid coronavirus: 'The calls ... are frantic'
David Crary, Associated Press
Apr 14, 2020
NEW YORK – The coronavirus outbreak has fueled attempts to ban abortions in some states, but providers where the procedure remains available report increased demand, often from women distraught over economic stress and health concerns linked to the pandemic.
“The calls we’ve been getting are frantic,” said Julie Burkhart, who manages clinics in Wichita, Kansas, and Oklahoma City. “We’ve seen more women coming sooner than they would have because they’re scared they won’t be able to access the services later.”
The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Forcing Abortion Providers to Make Impossible Decisions
Mar 24, 2020
The Choices Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, a small clinic in Tennessee, had two doctors providing abortion care until a few days ago. The center, which draws patients from all over the region, sees anywhere between 20 and 40 patients a week, according to its assistant director Katy Leopard: They come from Mississippi, where there is only one clinic providing this kind of care, and from Arkansas, where abortions can be hard to come by, and sometimes from even as far as Kentucky.
In the United States, an estimated 11.3 million women live more than an hour’s drive from an abortion provider, and often doctors will split their time between clinics to provide more geographically comprehensive care. Last year, the Los Angeles Times shadowed a provider who performed 50 abortions in 60 hours when she “commuted” from California to Texas, a feat that now given a roiling pandemic and orders from state governments to “just stay home” seems difficult, if not impossible, to imagine. But clinic workers and reproductive health advocates are trying to manage, considering that even in moments of global crisis, unwanted pregnancies don’t stop.
Abortion Clinics Are Getting Nickel-and-Dimed Out of Business
From legal battles to securing vendors to getting the walls painted, every budget line is a struggle.
By Cynthia Koons and Rebecca Greenfield
February 27, 2020
Amy Hagstrom Miller, owner of Whole Woman’s Health in Austin, has faced many existential threats to her business. When Texas passed a law in 2013 requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, she was forced to close the clinic. She fought the measure all the way to the Supreme Court, and in 2016, she prevailed. By a 5–3 decision, the court ruled in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that the law wasn’t medically justified. There’s an iconic photo of Hagstrom Miller descending the Supreme Court steps afterward, fist raised, smile radiant. Nine months later, she reopened her clinic.
It looked like a happy ending. But a year later the Austin clinic was on the brink again.
How the Supreme Court Could Gut Reproductive Rights Without Ruling on a Single Abortion Restriction
February 10 2020
Julie Bindeman’s first pregnancy went so smoothly, and she and her husband were so enamored with their newborn son, that the couple decided to try for a second child as soon as possible. They conceived easily — just as they had the first time around — but then Bindeman miscarried. That reframed her thinking around pregnancy. “It wasn’t just, you get pregnant and have a baby, which had been my first experience,” she said. “Well, you can get pregnant and not have a baby, and that can happen really early.”
The couple decided to try again. Bindeman was anxious during the first trimester, bracing for another miscarriage. But that didn’t happen, and things seemed to be proceeding well. Then, at the 20-week mark, they received devastating news after a routine ultrasound: The fetus’s brain was not developing properly. If the fetus were to survive to term, it would never develop beyond a 2-month-old — it wouldn’t be able to walk, talk, or feed itself. “Our lives completely turned upside down,” Bindeman said.