Friday, September 8, 2017

Abortion via telemedicine as safe as seeing doctor in person

Reuters (September 7, 2017): Abortion via telemedicine as safe as seeing doctor in person, by Ronnie Cohen:

A new study has found that the safety of medication abortion is the same when doctors provide information about how to use abortion inducing drugs through video conferencing as when doctors meet with a woman in person.

“We can really say definitively now that there is no increased risk of complications among women who obtain medication abortion by telemedicine as opposed to women who have an in-person visit with a physician,” said lead author Dr. Daniel Grossman, an obstetrician-gynecologist and professor at the University of California, San Francisco.

The study also found that adverse events in both situations were extremely rare.

The study's findings are significant because providing the option of telemedince can remove barriers to abortion for women who have difficulty traveling to an in person doctor appointment. A  2008 study showed that women's ability to obtain a first trimester abortion, rather than a second trimester abortion increased by 50% when women could obtain medication abortion by telemedicine.

Currently 18 states have laws that require that doctors meet with women in person when providing medication abortion.  The study could support a constitutional challenge to these laws since the Supreme Court has held in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt that medical regulations that restrict access to abortion in the guise of protecting women's health must actually provide some health benefit.

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