Technological advances have made it possible to conduct many activities online that could only be conducted in-person in times past. This has given rise to the telehealth industry which enables medical professionals to consult and prescribe medication for patients in other cities or states. Abortion services are now part of some telehealth models.
What is a Telehealth Abortion?
A telehealth abortion, contrary to common misconception, is not solely an online service. After the consultation, a woman can schedule an appointment with an abortion provider online, during which time the abortion provider will review the woman’s medical records before authorizing medication to end the pregnancy. Once the medication arrives in the mail, it is up to the woman to follow the instructions and take the medication provided.
Telehealth abortion has been championed by pro-choice advocates as a way for women to access abortion services quickly and easily; however, there are a number of problems with the way such programs operate. First, unless a woman has an ultrasound, there is no way to know for certain how far along she is in her pregnancy. Abortion medications are FDA approved only up to the tenth week of pregnancy. As high as10% of women who use pregnancy-ending medications up to ten weeks after their last menstrual cycle will need in-person medical care afterward; however, this number jumps to over 38% for women in their second trimester of pregnancy. Second, virtual abortion providers do not require women to undergo the medical care needed to ensure that she will not have an adverse reaction to the medications, and statistics clearly show that women who have medical abortions are more likely to have complications than women who have surgical procedures. Furthermore, a medical abortion often has adverse health consequences, including heavy bleeding, nausea, vomiting, fever, and dizziness.1
Questions to Ask Yourself
Pregnancy is challenging to deal with even under ideal circumstances. It is much more difficult when the pregnancy is unplanned and a woman does not have the finances she needs or the emotional support that she deserves. Even so, it is important for all medical decisions, including abortion, to be made only after careful thought and examining the pros and cons of all the options by an advocate who has been trained in pregnancy options consultation. The following are some questions a woman should ask herself if she believes she is pregnant and is considering a medical abortion.
Did I have a lab-quality pregnancy test?
It is possible to miss a period for one or more reasons other than pregnancy, including stress, low body weight, obesity, and peri-menopause.2 Alternatively, it is also possible to get a false negative on an at-home pregnancy test.
Did I have an ultrasound?
A woman who knows for certain that she is pregnant should always obtain an ultrasound. An ultrasound can enable a medical professional to accurately determine the age of the fetus. It can also ensure the fetus is implanted in the uterus and the pregnancy is not ectopic. What’s more, an ultrasound can also enable a medical professional to hear the fetus’ heartbeat and determine if the fetus is viable. Miscarriage during the first three months of pregnancy is very common and there is no point obtaining a medical abortion if the fetus isn’t viable in the first place.
Do I have an STD?
It’s not at all uncommon for a woman to have an STD without obvious symptoms. However, even an asymptomatic, untreated STD can cause complications for women who have an abortion. It can also cause pregnancy complications if a woman decides to carry the baby to term. STD testing during pregnancy is a must no matter how a woman decides to handle her pregnancy, and those who test positive should receive STD treatment from a medical professional without delay.
Do I know my blood type?
Many people who have a medical abortion experience heavy bleeding. If the bleeding does not abate on its own, a woman will need to seek immediate, in-person, medical help. In such instances, the medical facility will need to know blood type in order to provide appropriate care. It is also critical to know if the Rh factor is positive or negative.
What if it doesn’t work?
Abortion medication doesn’t always work. Ideally, a woman who undergoes a medical abortion should receive in-person care afterwards to ensure the pregnancy is indeed over and there are no complications or infections. Those who use a telehealth service will need to find a medical facility that can provide in-person care. It’s not easy to make life-changing decisions while dealing with the effects of pregnancy, including fatigue, mood changes, and nausea. For this reason, it is wise to seek out experienced advocates and medical staff who will provide comprehensive information on all the options, including parenting or adoption. At Willowbrook Women’s Center, we specialize in providing women with the support, practical care, and resources needed to make informed decisions. What’s more, we offer pregnancy screening services women need to assess their current condition. These include lab-grade pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. If STD testing is done, a confidential referral for women who need STD treatment will be given. As an added benefit, since there is never any cost for our services, no information is filed with insurance companies to ensure a woman is afforded the total privacy she needs and deserves in order to determine the best course of action. If you or someone you know would benefit from professional, confidential, and caring crisis pregnancy services, get in touch with us at your convenience or schedule an online appointment at one of our centers.