Telemedicine abortion: a growing option as access to clinics decreases
But many TelAbortion patients live near clinics. Shiloh Kirby, 24, of Denver, who said she got pregnant after being raped at a party, chose TelAbortion for convenience and privacy. She performed her video consultation while sitting in her car in the parking lot of the hardware store where she worked.
Dawn, 30, a divorced mother of two who asked to be identified only by her first name, was terrified that the debilitating postpartum depression she experienced after the birth of her children would return if she was continuing her pregnancy. And she feared her local Planned Parenthood protesters in Salem, Ore., Would recognize her.
“I just don’t want to face this ridicule,” she said.
Expansion across the country
Based on state laws governing telemedicine and abortion, Dr Raymond estimated that TelAbortion might be legal in just over half of the states, including some conservatives. It now serves Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Washington.
Doctors (and nurses or midwives in some states) who perform TelAbortion video consultations must be licensed in states where drugs are mailed, but do not have to practice there. Likewise, patients do not have to live in states served by TelAbortion; they just have to be in one of them during the videoconference and provide an address – that of a friend, a relative, even a motel or a post office – to which the pills can be shipped.
“We have had patients who cross state borders in order to receive TelAbortions,” Dr. Raymond said. Others are expected to do so during the pandemic. This month, a woman from Texas drove 10 hours in snowy weather to New Mexico, where she stayed in a motel for her video conference and to receive the pills.
The organization that provides TelAbortion services in Georgia, carafem, has recently expanded to Maryland and Illinois, and it runs digital ads that are expected to reach women in some neighboring states like Missouri and Ohio, which have more restrictions on abortion, said Melissa Grant, carafem’s director of operations.
In May, shortly after Georgia’s governor signed one of the country’s toughest abortion laws (which is now being challenged in court), Lee, 37, who lives near Atlanta, found out she was seven weeks pregnant.