We noted last week that Whole Woman's Health in Minneapolis may soon offer RU486 abortions remotely via telemedicine. These "webcam abortions" are already offered at the Planned Parenthood facility in Rochester. What will be the consequences?
A recent study of webcam abortions in Iowa, which were introduced in 2008 and administered at 11 different clinics by 2010, provides evidence that the use of telemedicine for abortion does precisely what one would expect: it increases the incidence of RU486 abortions, increases the percentage of overall abortions that use RU486, and increases the incidence of abortion among women in rural areas—which increases the overall incidence of abortion relative to what it would otherwise be.
None of that is good for the unborn children who are killed by this chemical abortion method. It is certainly not consistent with a desire to reduce the number of abortions. But what about the women?
Dr. Jacqueline Harvey of ReproductiveResearchAudit.com notes that the study's authors (who strongly favor abortion) neglect the health consequences of webcam abortions for women. The researchers "fail to note medical [RU486] abortions have greater rates of complications than surgical abortions," she explains. "The researchers only examine geography and service delivery, not safety or complication."
In her own analysis, then, Harvey uses "the number of abortions by type provided in the ... study" together with "the percentage of women facing complications from each abortion method (also provided by [the study's lead author in his other work])" to conclude that "the increased prevalence of medical abortion will likely yield an 11% increase in the number of women suffering from complications."
An estimated 11 percent increase in the number of women suffering from abortion complications. Based on data provided by abortion advocates, including one who worked for Planned Parenthood in Iowa at the time of the study.
And that is not to mention concerns about the webcam method itself, such as the absence of doctors nearby to treat complications. "The incidence of requiring follow-up care face-to-face with a physician is greater with medical abortions than with surgical abortions—in spite of the fact that telemedicine is justified as expanding access to abortion in rural areas that lack qualified doctors," writes Harvey. "Telemedicine therefore increases the incidence of women electing for the abortion method with a greater incidence of risk, confounded with reduced access to medical professionals when these risks become reality."
It was for the health and safety of pregnant women that the Minnesota Legislature passed a ban on webcam abortions in 2012—requiring simply that a doctor be physically present when administering RU486—but the measure was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton. And now this dangerous and abortion-expanding practice is beginning to grow.