CINCINNATI, OH — Today, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, along with Fanon A. Rucker of The Cochran Firm-OH, sued on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region over the state’s ban on telemedicine abortion that was signed into law earlier this year. The law is set to take effect on April 12, and if the court does not intervene, medication abortion via telehealth will become inaccessible in Ohio.
In January, Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law Senate Bill 260, a dangerous ban on the use of telehealth in medication abortion that goes against best medical practices. The law forces patients to travel for an in-person appointment with a physician to access time-sensitive care. Given the wave of abortion bans and restrictions on access to health care across the country, people need more access to abortion, not less. While medication abortion via telemedicine cannot reverse or circumvent these abortion restrictions, it is one way to help more people get the care they need, when they need it. And banning access to it only causes further harm to patients, who are already struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Statement from Iris E. Harvey, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio:
“Telemedicine is a vital tool to ensure that patients can safely and quickly access the health care that they need. Ohio is one of the most medically underserved states in the country, a problem particularly felt by Black communities, people of color, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in our state. Telemedicine is a key tool to address those disparities. When the Ohio legislature and Gov. DeWine enacted this unjust law, their intentions were clear — telemedicine is great, unless it is used in health care they don’t agree with.
“We’re taking them to court to make sure that our patients can access medication abortion — a safe, effective, and vital part of reproductive health — without the added burdens of travel and time. It’s already hard for people to access abortion services because of more than a decade of attacks by extreme anti-abortion forces in Ohio. We’ll never stop fighting to change that.”
Statement from Kersha Deibel, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio Region:
“Safe, legal abortion is already extremely difficult to access for people in this state, particularly for Black people, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, people with low incomes and people living in remote areas. Telemedicine is a widely used method of providing care. By singling out and excluding abortion services, the state makes clear that the intent of this law is not better health care for Ohioans — which should be the state’s focus, especially during a pandemic — but rather its sole purpose is to push access to safe, legal abortion further out of reach. This law creates one more barrier for populations already struggling to access the health care they need. It’s unacceptable and we will not stand for it.”
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“Across the country, we’re seeing states attack and limit access to medication abortion, in clear defiance of science. At a time when we should expand access to all telehealth services, Ohio’s legislators have singled out and targeted abortion services. This is why we took Ohio to court today. We won’t stand for this relentless attack on our basic rights and freedoms that targets the same people who have been hit hardest by COVID-19 — women, people of color, people with low incomes, and LGBTQ+ people. Planned Parenthood will never stop fighting for our patients’ rights to access reproductive health care.”
Medication abortion is safe, effective, and a vital part of reproductive health care. Requiring that a patient see a physician in person to obtain the medication for a medication abortion does not improve patient safety, no matter what might be said by legislators who ignore science. By allowing patients to access medication abortion via telehealth, it can reduce delays in accessing care and the distance that patients have to travel in order to speak with a provider and receive their medication.
Nationally, attacks on medication abortion are on the rise. Planned Parenthood Federation of America released a new report last month that shows state abortion bans and restrictions are escalating across the country. And at a time when patients trying to survive a pandemic depend on telehealth and medication abortion, politicians tripled the number of medication abortion restrictions introduced compared to this time in 2019, pre-pandemic.