Iowa Telemed Study Reveals Increased Access to Safe Early Abortion Care


Anti-choice activists have moved aggressively to limit access to telemed abortion—a method of doctor-patient communication that enables consultation via web-cam rather than in a clinic—based on the argument that the practice drastically increases the number of abortions. Framing the approach as a way that clinics were seeking to pad their coffers by allowing even more abortions in more locations, abortion opponents argued that these “roboskype” abortions would make terminations more risky and numerous.

It turns out, neither claim is true.

A new study of the effect of telemed abortions in Iowa has shown what many expected to see—abortions are happening at no greater rate than they were before. The difference? Fewer second trimester abortions. With more access to abortion earlier in the pregnancy, women who have decided to terminate aren’t forced to spend so much time trying to make the arrangements necessary to travel great distances to get to clinics, and instead can end a pregnancy with a less invasive medication abortion rather than a surgical one.

Via USA Today:

A key finding of the study was that remotely administered abortions provided more access to the procedure to women who would otherwise have trouble finding an abortion provider, [study co-author Daniel] Grossman said.

“I think the most important thing is that it showed how access was improved after telemedicine was introduced,” said Grossman, vice president for research at Ibis Reproductive Health in Massachusetts. The organization works to improve access and choice for women’s reproductive health services.

“The results of this study confirm that providing access to medication abortion using telemedicine does not increase the number of abortions, but allows a woman to end a pregnancy when and where it is best for her,” [Planned Parenthood of the Heartland public affairs officer Penny] Dickey said in a statement.

An attempt to restrict telemed abortions or all out ban RU-486 will be one of the most popular bills to come to state legislatures during the 2013 session. Concerned that medication abortion and especially telemed abortions could undo the decades of work anti-choice politicians have put into closing down clinics across the country via TRAP laws, those who oppose reproductive rights will make any attempts to expand access their number one concern.

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