A new telemedicine site is going to change abortion access in the USA. It’s called Abortion on Demand. It has been in the planning for one and a half years, waiting on the FDA’s decision above to be announced and opened. It will launch initially in 20 US states and Washington DC, with plans to expand to five more states soon.
Women need to be age 18 or older and 56 days pregnant or less, and must show photo ID as proof of age. The fee will be US$239, which is about $300 less than at a health centre.
The process will involve the following steps:
- You register online through a pre-recorded programme that provides information and you give your informed consent, which can be reviewed at any time.
- There is a video appointment with a physician.
- When you have decided you want to proceed, you have to pay upfront.
- Then it should take between 2.5 and 5 days to get the medication, depending on where you live.
The article describing this new service was published in the women’s magazine Marie Claire on 13 April 2021. The woman in charge of setting up the new service, Dr Jamie Phifer, has a lot to say about the huge advantages of telemedicine abortion, alongside a justified concern that when this service takes off, it may put independent abortion clinics at risk – because it costs less and because those clinics provide the majority of abortions in the US right now and may not survive if they lose many of their patients.
This matters not least because the service can only help with early abortions, and the clinics are absolutely necessary not only for abortions over 8 weeks but also for everyone who does not want or cannot safely have a telemedical abortion with pills at home. Her other concern is that the states that ban telemedicine abortion are the same states where it is hard to find an abortion in a clinic too.
Disparities in access to abortions and healthcare generally have been made worse during the pandemic and there are concerns that increased access to telemedicine abortion will create greater disparities between access to early abortions and later ones. Dr Phifer hopes she can give some financial support to at least some independent clinics to try and offset some of these effects.
This is a brave undertaking, with ramifications that will only start to become clear now that the news is public. Watch this space!!
SOURCE: Marie Claire, by Susan Rinkunas, 13 April 2021 ;
FOR BACKGROUND, READ: Marie Claire, A bitter pill, by Susan Rinkunas, 13 January 2021