Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Using telemedicine to provide abortion services

Monica Davey reports today on the use of videoconferencing to consult with patients seeking to terminate a pregnancy. Davey's story, dateline Des Moines, Iowa, tells of a path-breaking program which, to date, is used only by Planned Parenthood of Iowa. The program permits a physician can consult with a patient via videoconferencing. Once the patient gives her consent to a drug-induced abortion, the physician can--with the click of a mouse--open a drawer that contains two abortion drugs, one for ingestion then, one she can take a few days later. An excerpt from Davey's story follows:
Efforts to provide medical services by videoconference, a notion known as telemedicine, are expanding into all sorts of realms, but these clinics in Iowa are the first in the nation, and so far the only ones, experts say, to provide abortions this way.
Advocates say the idea offers an answer to an essential struggle that has long troubled those who favor abortion rights: How to make abortions available in far-flung, rural places and communities where abortion providers are unable or unwilling to travel.
* * *
Though the efforts drew little attention until recently, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (which recently combined affiliate operations in Nebraska with those in Iowa) has dispensed abortion medication using teleconferencing equipment at 16 Iowa clinics since June 2008; 1,500 such abortions have been performed in this state.
Read my own discussion of rural women's challenges to abortion access here. Telemedicine has limits, of course, when it comes to abortion provision--most obviously in relation to the types of early-term abortions (up to nine weeks) that can be induced by drugs.

Of course, regardless of these limitations, litigation initiated by abortion foes is on the way ...

1 comment:

Humaun Kabir said...

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