Abortion by remote control

By at home

It’s been ten years since the US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the abortion pill by American women. But there’s more controversy to come, as the pill’s proponents want to make the drug more readily available, by supplying it to women through a videoconference with a doctor.

The abortion-inducing drug  Mifeprex, known as RU-486, was branded as ‘the little white bombshell’ by The New York Times in 1999, because of it’s potential to change how abortion was provided in the USA. Ten years on, and abortion providers across the country are considering launching telemedicine  programmes, similar to the one developed by Iowa Planned Parenthood.

Current Iowa law requires a licensed physician to be present when giving out the abortion-inducing drug, which is a problem for women who don’t have access to a doctor. Since the launch of the telemedicine programme in 2008, abortion clinics in Iowa have distributed the drug to 1,900 women via videoconference, according to The Associated Press. After undergoing the required physical examination, blood test, medical history report, ultrasound and counselling with a nurse, the patient discusses the abortion procedure with a doctor via an online video. The doctor then unlocks a container by remote control to release the pill in front of the patient.

Dr David Grimes, a North Carolina obstetrician/gynaecologist, says the pill’s impact has been positive. ‘I just don’t see any downsides. For those women who don’t like the invasiveness of surgery, it gives them a very important option,’ he said, as well as noting that the drug enables a woman to have an abortion in the privacy of her home.

But the telemedicine programme has attracted much opposition from anti-abortion groups. Donna Harrison, president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, criticised  the Iowa programme as a ‘vending-machine distribution […] that takes a cavalier attitude to a new dimension.’

 Do you think the abortion pill should be made available via telemedicine programmes?

Picture kindly from here

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