Innovative Pharmaceutical Abortions in Iowa—And Hypocritical Resistance

If you want to deprive women and men of their right to an abortion, at least be honest about it.

In Iowa, Planned Parenthood offers an innovative service to facilitate private pharmaceutical abortion. Since most Iowans live far from the state’s very few abortion providers, Planned Parenthood is offering telemedicine service. The patient goes to a nurse or other non-provider in her home town, who connects with the physician-provider in a Planned Parenthood office, perhaps 100 or more miles away. The doc asks the usual medical questions, the patient answers, and if she qualifies, the doc OKs the nurse to dispense RU-486. Both the nurse (in person) and the doc (via teleconference) are available for followup.

Predictably, the procedure has its opponents. After all, some Americans are obsessively against abortion, no matter when, where, or how it’s done.

But these opponents—who believe that government should be shrunk smaller and smaller until it can fit under the bedroom door—are claiming they are terribly, terribly concerned about the doctor-patient relationship. They’re concerned that teleconferencing creates “one-size-fits-all” medical care.

These people should be ashamed of their hypocrisy.

Since 1973, people who are against other people’s right to choose abortion have made the procedure increasingly difficult to find or use. Some 90% of all U.S. counties now lack a qualified abortion provider.

Thirty-four states require that a woman undergo pre-abortion “counseling”—which isn’t even required to be accurate (and so women are told about bogus ‘connections’ between abortion and breast cancer or depression). Twenty-four states require a waiting period after that, often more than 24 hours—meaning that most women would have to make two separate trips to a clinic or physician, often 5 or 6 hours away. The latest insult is the requirement, in several states, that women get (and often pay for!) a fetal ultrasound before being granted the privilege of a legal abortion.

Having made abortion hard to find, hard to get, and even more emotionally wrenching than necessary, anti-choice zealots have the nerve to criticize a program that makes abortion easier, safer, more private, and slightly less grotesque and frightening.

In an era when many HMOs require visit after time-consuming visit just for a patient to see a specialist (who may just prescribe medication anyway), telemedicine is a great way for many people to get high-quality medical care.

It’s a great solution to the problems of access, confidentiality, and fear that the Religious Right has created for women who want a medical procedure with which they disagree. At the very least, people who want to disempower 2,000,000 or more American women per year could be honest about what they’re doing—and why.

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