Reproductive rights

Abortions obtained via telemedicine are safe, study says

The abortion drug Mifepristone (Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Nineteen states currently require women to take the “abortion pill” — a moniker that actually refers to two medications, mifepristone and misoprostol — in the presence of a medical professional. But a new study suggests that medication abortions are just as safe when a clinician supervises the patient remotely.

As HuffPost reports, a study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology followed approximately 20,000 patients who visited multiple Planned Parenthood clinics in Iowa between 2008 and 2015. Some were administered a medical abortion in the presence of a clinician, while others received their care via “telemedicine” — or, in other words, an off-site doctor spoke to them about their suitability for the abortion pill and gave them follow-up care via video chat.

Researchers analyzed the frequency of complications — like hospital admissions, surgeries, blood transfusions, or death — in both groups and found that patients who received their care via telemedicine experienced fewer issues. But generally speaking, complications were rare; only 49 out of 20,000 women experienced adverse side effects after taking the abortion pill.

The study is important because, according to some experts and advocates, telemedicine abortions can help provide care for women who are not able to easily access abortion providers. Some states have tried to restrict telemedicine abortions by claiming that they are unsafe. The recent study suggests that telemedicine abortions do not, in fact, carry greater risk than in-person procedures.

“The question of safety [of telemedicine abortion] has been hard to answer, in part because complications with abortion are so rare,” study co-author Dr. Daniel Grossman told HuffPost. “Now with this study, with seven years of data and 20,000 patients, we can say the risk is not higher than with in-person provision.”

Read the full story at HuffPost.


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