DIY abor­tion kits tested as al­ter­na­tive to clin­ics Pro-lif­ers worry about ‘telabor­tion’

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY SHEN WU TAN

A coali­tion of pro-choice ad­vo­cates is ex­pand­ing abor­tion ser­vices via ship­ments of do-it-your­self med­i­ca­tions and telemedici­ne in sev­eral states in­clud­ing Ge­or­gia, which re­cently banned the prac­tice af­ter a fe­tal heart­beat is de­tected.

Clin­i­cians from Gy­nu­ity Health Projects, Planned Par­ent­hood and other fam­ily plan­ning groups are of­fer­ing “telabor­tion” ser­vices in eight states in an ef­fort to in­crease ac­cess to abor­tion.

“State leg­is­la­tures have passed many un­nec­es­sary laws to re­strict abor­tion care, some­times forc­ing clin­ics to close and women to travel some­times 50 miles or more to the near­est clinic,” said Meighan Mary Tar­na­gada, a pro­gram re­search as­so­ciate for Gy­nu­ity Health Projects.

“Some women have to cross state lines. Some women have to take flights to get to a qual­ity abor­tion provider,” she said. “It’s a hard­ship for women.”

But Eric Schei­dler, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Pro-Life Ac­tion League, ques­tions the moral­ity of telemedici­ne abor­tion ser­vices.

“Per­haps it would in­crease abor­tion ac­cess. But my ques­tion would be, why is that such a great thing?” Mr. Schei­dler said. “From the per­spec­tive of some­body who rec­og­nizes a fel­low hu­man be­ing — al­beit at a very early stage of life, but no less a mem­ber of the hu­man fam­ily de­serv­ing of pro­tec­tion and con­cern — I can’t see in­creas­ing abor­tion as a good thing.”

The telabor­tion ef­fort is be­ing in­tro­duced as some states move to en­shrine abor­tion rights into their laws and con­sti­tu­tions while oth­ers have en­acted re­stric­tions or out­right bans against the pro­ce­dure. Such leg­isla­tive ac­tion has been driven in part by ideas that the new con­ser­va­tive ma­jor­ity of the Supreme Court would over­turn the 1973 Roe v. Wade de­ci­sion that le­gal­ized abor­tion na­tion­wide.

Ju­lia Kohn, na­tional di­rec­tor of re­search, eval­u­a­tion and data an­a­lyt­ics for the Planned Par­ent­hood Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­ica, said its on­go­ing telemedici­ne pro­gram can help re­duce bar­ri­ers that make it harder for women to ac­cess abor­tion ser­vices such as se­cur­ing trans­porta­tion, child care and time off work.

The telabor­tion team has sent more than 400 pack­ages con­tain­ing med­i­ca­tions to women in Hawaii, Ore­gon, Wash­ing­ton, Maine, New York, Colorado, New Mex­ico and Ge­or­gia.

Women who par­tic­i­pated in the study had video con­fer­ences with a study clin­i­cian, pre­treat­ment lab tests and ul­tra­sounds. Pack­ages with mifepri­s­tone and miso­pros­tol were mailed to those who were el­i­gi­ble. The women re­ceived in­struc­tions for us­ing the abor­tion med­i­ca­tions and had fol­low-up tests and con­sul­ta­tions with clin­i­cians by phone or video­con­fer­ence.

Sev­eral states, in­clud­ing Alabama, Louisiana, Ohio, Mis­souri, Ge­or­gia and Arkansas, have new re­stric­tions against abor­tion. Many of th­ese states have en­acted “heart­beat” laws that ban abor­tions once a doc­tor can de­tect a fe­tal heart­beat in the womb.

Of­fi­cials in Ge­or­gia did not re­turn calls seek­ing com­ment on the telabor­tion ef­fort.

Mean­while, Illi­nois, New York, Ver­mont and Maine are tak­ing ac­tion to pro­tect or ex­pand abor­tion ser­vices.

“We’re see­ing the states go­ing in op­po­site di­rec­tions,” Mr. Schei­dler said.

He called telabor­tion “trou­bling” and said the med­i­cal pro­ce­dure is more dan­ger­ous with­out a doc­tor. The larger ques­tion of safety needs to be ad­dressed, he said.

In the ini­tial telabor­tion ef­fort, clin­i­cians mailed abor­tion med­i­ca­tions to 248 women and recorded out­comes for 190 par­tic­i­pants. Of those, 177 com­pleted an abor­tion with­out a clinical pro­ce­dure.

Of the 248 women, 217 pro­vided fol­lowup in­for­ma­tion. The data showed that one woman was hos­pi­tal­ized for post­op­er­a­tive seizure and an­other for ex­ces­sive bleed­ing. A to­tal of 27 women had un­sched­uled clinical en­coun­ters, 12 of which re­sulted in no treat­ment.

A to­tal of 159 women (64%) who re­ceived abor­tion med­i­ca­tions ex­pressed sat­is­fac­tion with the telabor­tion ser­vices, ac­cord­ing to a study pub­lished this month by Con­tra­cep­tion.

Randall O’Ban­non, di­rec­tor of ed­u­ca­tion and re­search for Na­tional Right to Life, said com­pli­ca­tions as­so­ci­ated with abor­tion are “not triv­ial and hardly safe to ig­nore.” He noted that the study’s re­searchers don’t know the out­comes for 58 of the 248 women (23%) who were mailed abor­tion med­i­ca­tions.

“Their own data show a process with a lot of prob­lems and un­re­solved is­sues — too many miss­ing pa­tients, too many miss­ing pills, too many safety con­cerns,” Mr. O’Ban­non said in an opin­ion ar­ti­cle.

Ms. Mary Tar­na­gada said Gy­nu­ity Health Projects did not see higher rates of ad­verse out­comes for women who par­tic­i­pated in telabor­tion than in-clinic vis­its.

“I be­lieve strongly that it’s a woman’s choice in what she wants to do with her body. So I be­lieve strongly that abor­tion care is es­sen­tial. It should be one of the gen­eral health care op­tions for women. They shouldn’t have to go through hur­dles,” she said. “Choices can do noth­ing, but be a bet­ter thing for women.”

She said Gy­nu­ity Health Projects hopes to add three or four states to the telabor­tion ef­fort. She em­pha­sized that abor­tion is le­gal in all 50 states and that many of the abor­tion bans do not go into ef­fect un­til much later.

States should set their own rules for abor­tion, said Mr. Schei­dler, adding that both sides can agree with the idea of tak­ing the is­sue out of fed­eral pol­i­tics and mov­ing it closer to home.

“Some women have to cross state lines. Some women have to take flights to get to a qual­ity abor­tion provider. It’s a hard­ship for women.” — Meighan Mary Tar­na­gada, Gy­nu­ity Health Projects

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.