Everything You Need To Know About Abortion Telehealth
Healthcare providers offer plenty of different services to help women who are expecting babies and want an abortion. If you’re looking for information on abortion telehealth services, you’ve landed in the right place.
Abortion isn’t pretty, but it also isn’t as evil or controversial as many would have you believe. It is a serious medical procedure that needs to be addressed by a healthcare professional who understands the procedure and your health.
You might think that the only two options are getting an abortion at an abortion clinic or taking the first pill of a medical abortion at home. Other choices are available to you – telehealth abortion and medication abortion at home.
The availability of medical abortions means that women can choose this option in a safe and comfortable environment. Here we will go over the basics of telemedicine, including how it works and its current availability.
What Is Abortion Telehealth?
Abortion telehealth is convenient for women to get confidential medical care from their homes. Abortion telehealth allows women a safe and private abortion experience without traveling to a clinic or hospital. The procedure involves the use of medication to induce abortion.
It’s like a doctor’s visit, but you do it over the phone or online. A doctor can give you advice about your health or help you with a problem you are having.
The best part about abortion telehealth is that it gives you more control over your experience — no matter where you live or how much money you make.
If you need to see a doctor immediately, call 911 or go to an emergency room immediately. Abortion telehealth is not an alternative to regular care with your primary care provider (PCP). If you want to make an appointment with your PCP, check with them first.
How Does Abortion Telehealth Work?
Abortion telehealth is where a patient who lives far away from the abortion clinic can consult with a doctor or nurse practitioner via video, phone, or Skype for the first trimester and then have an abortion procedure done in their state.
Abortion telehealth requires a woman to take an online test called a “pregnancy test” that determines if she is pregnant. If the result says she is pregnant, she will be directed to another website to enter her medical history and answer questions about herself and her pregnancy. This information will help determine if she’s eligible for abortion care via telemedicine.
Once the doctor has approved a woman to perform her abortion over a webcam, she must visit her local Planned Parenthood clinic for an examination and evaluation. The clinic will take some blood tests and an ultrasound to confirm how far along her pregnancy is and whether or not she’s eligible for abortion care via telemedicine.
The drugs used for this procedure are available online, so you do not have to go to a pharmacy or search for them at local pharmacies. You can purchase them from your own home and use them later in the day after following instructions given by your doctor.
The procedure is completed within two months after taking the medicines prescribed by your doctor. This gives your body time to adjust to normal again after losing unwanted pregnancy tissues inside it. The medicines will also help prevent further pregnancies in the future if taken regularly as directed by doctors.
Are There Medically-Accurate, Evidence-Based Providers for Abortion Telehealth?
The Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act of 2020H. R. (7663) is part of ACOG’s continued advocacy efforts to ensure increased access to telehealth services.
Bipartisan support for this legislation from the House Telehealth Caucus would allow it to increase coverage after the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) is gone and eliminate antiquated Medicare telehealth limits.
This ensures obstetricians and gynecologists can continue using telemedicine services to give your patients secure, high-quality healthcare.
Particularly, H.R. 7663 would:
- So that all Medicare beneficiaries can access covered telehealth services and remove geographic restrictions on patient location.
- Provide telehealth services from home to all Medicare beneficiaries.
- Make sure rural and federally recognized health centers can offer telehealth services.
The Cigna telehealth policy has been extended through at least December 31, 2020:
- Audio-only E/M visits are covered.
- Both audio-video and audio-only telehealth consultations will get the same payment as in-person visits.
- Coverage for a 5- to 10-minute phone consultation with the HCPCS code G2012; there is no cost-sharing for members for this service.
Is It Safe For Patients?
Yes. Telehealth is a safe and effective way to access medical care. You don’t need to see anyone else in person during your appointment. You can keep it completely confidential if you choose not to tell family or friends that you had an abortion.
Telehealth is a rapidly growing sector of health care. However, there are concerns that telemedicine is not always safe for patients. One of the concerns is with abortion, particularly because the procedure involves taking pills to induce a miscarriage.
Some women have taken abortion medication at home without medical supervision and ended up in emergency rooms or even the morgue. So why are women doing this?
Mostly it’s because they want to avoid going to an abortion clinic or doctor’s office, which can be inconvenient or expensive. Some women also fear harassment from protesters outside clinics or even from their family members.
Sometimes these fears are justified, as many clinics have reported threats from anti-abortion activists who film patients’ license plates and even follow them home after an appointment.
Is It Safe For Healthcare Providers?
Like abortion, abortion telehealth isn’t always safe for the people who perform them. Abortion providers are more likely to be threatened with violence than any other type of doctor or healthcare provider in the country.
It also includes those who work in emergency rooms and hospitals, which rank second and third on that list. And some of those threats turn into violence against doctors who provide abortions.
What Are The Benefits Of Telehealth?
Here are five benefits of Abortion Telehealth:
1. No Travel or Childcare Concerns
You can receive your abortion care in the comfort of your home while watching T.V., reading a book, or even meditating! You don’t have to worry about child care or traveling long distances to get the necessary care.
2. Lower Costs
Telemedicine services generally cost less than traditional in-office appointments, which saves you time and money. Some insurance companies even cover portions of these costs.
You won’t need to leave your home while getting an abortion using telemedicine technology; you only need a phone line and an internet connection. This means no one will know about your decision except those close to you who already know about your decision.
4. It’s Convenient
You do not have to worry about traveling long distances or making arrangements for transportation because abortion telehealth allows you to stay in your home while receiving treatment from a licensed doctor via video chat or telephone call.
Is Telehealth Safe For Abortion Care?
Amid a national abortion access crisis and an onslaught of state-level abortion restrictions, telehealth has emerged as a promising way to expand access to abortion care.
There’s no evidence that telemedicine increases risks for patients. A recent study found telemedicine was safe for first-trimester abortions and improved patient satisfaction with their care.
Which States Offer Abortion Telehealth?
Most online abortion clinics only officially operate in states where such procedures are permitted. But in the context of a rapidly evolving legal landscape, that could leave access gaps.
The abortion clinic Case works for, Whole Woman’s Health, which provides telemedicine abortions in Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico, Virginia, and Maryland. In some of these locations, the organization does not have a physical clinic but partners with local healthcare professionals to staff virtual appointments.
The use of telemedicine services for abortion is also prohibited in other states, including Arizona, Louisiana, and Tennessee. States like Texas have made it illegal to ship abortion pills to women.
Pro-choice advocates are asking blue states to shield abortion providers from legal action. A New York-based telehealth abortion provider who requested anonymity out of concern for her family said, “We’re lobbying the state to pass assurances that my license will not be in jeopardy; that my malpractice will not be in jeopardy; and that I will not be extradited to another state and prosecuted.”
Some states have approved or are considering implementing laws to shield their therapists from liability. These states include Connecticut, California, and Washington.
The Takeaway Message
It is safe to say that while contraception and even abortion have been around for many centuries and millennia, technology has not been widely used until recently.
However, technological advances have enabled service providers to offer Abortion Telehealth services, such as teleconferencing from a central location at select facilities, instead of having to travel. Abortion Telehealth is safe, private, and easy.
Despite the potential risks and the controversy surrounding abortion, telehealth technologies such as abortion pills are becoming increasingly popular. Abortion pills help women end unwanted pregnancies and provide safe access to reproductive healthcare.
As these medications become more accessible and easier to obtain, we expect to see a rise in the number of women who learn about abortion telehealth services.
(Written by Dr. Ebad Khan)
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