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Video Highlights How Telemedicine Expands Abortion Access for Patients

NEW YORK, NY — Today, Planned Parenthood released a new video educating people on medication abortion via telemedicine, a safe and effective way of ending a pregnancy. The video explains how abortion via telemedicine works, and how it can expand access to safe and legal abortion for patients in remote and rural communities. Planned Parenthood’s work in this area is highlighted in "Abortion’s Next Frontier: Video Chat” in Cosmopolitan’s March 2018 issue, on newsstands today, and the new video is featured in the article online.  

“Not many people know or understand how medication abortion using telemedicine works, or what it means for expanding patient access to safe and legal abortion,” said Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood of Maryland, who appears in the video. “We’re excited to share this video because we want as many people as possible to understand that medication abortion via telemedicine is a safe and effective way of ending a pregnancy, and that the the same quality of care is provided as when the provider is in the health center with the patient.”

Medication abortion has been safe and legal in the United States since the FDA approved its use nearly 18 years ago. It has helped ensure that patients are able to make their own private medical decisions, and has expanded access to reproductive health care. Medication abortion gives patients the option of ending a pregnancy in a setting in which they feel most comfortable, while still providing them with the medical support and information they need.  

There is overwhelming evidence that medication abortion is safe and effective for virtually anyone who wants to end an early pregnancy, with a safety record of over 99 percent. A growing proportion of patients in the U.S. are deciding to end their pregnancies with medication abortion. In fact, in 2014, nearly one in three patients seeking abortion choose medication abortion.

“Planned Parenthood believes that everyone should be able to have a safe and legal abortion, if and when they make that decision,” Dr. McDonald-Mosley said. “And we know that there’s a vast unmet need for reproductive health care in this country. Planned Parenthood is determined to address that need with solutions that connect people to the health care they need — solutions like telemedicine, a proven strategy for expanding access to abortion, especially for those living in rural areas.”

While seven in 10 Americans support abortion rights, around 90 percent of U.S. counties have no abortion provider. Telemedicine makes it possible for patients to get the care they need and can improve health equity by ensuring that people have access to care in a timely manner. By distributing the medication for early abortion safely and effectively via telemedicine, Planned Parenthood is able to serve patients without making them travel long distances.

Research has found abortion via telemedicine to be safe and effective. A study of medication abortions administered through telemedicine at a Planned Parenthood in Iowa found a significant reduction in second-trimester abortion rates after medication abortion was introduced. The study also found that telemedicine increased the ability of patients in remote parts of the state to obtain an abortion.

“Planned Parenthood health centers see patients who have been forced to delay care and travel hundreds of miles or even out of state to access a procedure,” Dr. McDonald-Mosley said. “We are proud to offer abortion via telemedicine as just one part of the work we do to ensure that all people get the reproductive health care they need, no matter where they live.”

Planned Parenthood's telemedicine program offers the same high-quality care to patients that they would receive during an in-clinic visit to any Planned Parenthood health center. Currently, Planned Parenthood health centers in 10 states use telemedicine to provide medication abortion services. Planned Parenthood is working to make these services available in additional states, as well as adding locations in states currently offering this service.

Today’s video follows two previous videos explaining medication abortion and in-clinic abortion services, which were released last year. Visit PlannedParenthood.org to learn more about safe and legal abortion.  

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Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood affiliates serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives