Abortion has been a popular topic of discussion among policymakers around the world. Medical abortions have continuously proven to be highly safe and effective. In fact, it has a success rate of over 95%, and less than 0.4% of patients have serious complications. Even though the use of mifepristone was first legalized in France and China in the late 1980s, policymakers have continuously fought over the accessibility of medication abortion. Medicated abortion is still highly debated and heavily regulated abortion laws. The regulations prevent women searching for medical care from easily accessing safe methods of abortion. Abortion with pills is a safe and effective process that can be made more accessible by policymakers who have the power to change overly restricting laws.
What Is Abortion With Pills?
An abortion with pills, also known as a medical abortion, is where pregnancy is terminated by taking medications. These pills can be taken at home or in an abortion clinic. They typically consist of using mifepristone and misoprostol, or sometimes just misoprostol. Abortion with pills is a very safe process that is highly effective and non-invasive. You can read more about abortion pills here.
Factors That Make Medical Abortions Inaccessible
Common barriers to abortion care were often categorized by travel-related issues, few clinic options, financial issues, and legal restrictions. This leads to women traveling far distances to find safe and effective pregnancy termination. For women who are low income, travel is sometimes not an option. Transportation, housing accommodations, and medical care can often contribute to why women cannot access abortion care. Barriers such as these often lead women to have mental health issues and consider self-induced abortion, which is when a pregnant woman tries to terminate the pregnancy through potentially dangerous methods.
Consequences of Inaccessible Medical Abortions
When medical abortions are not easily accessible to women, it can lead to serious medical implications. Women who are left with no options tend to turn to unsafe abortions. According to The World Health Organization (WHO), unsafe abortion is when an abortion is performed by someone who does not have the proper skills or environment to terminate a pregnancy. The apparent purpose of making abortions illegal is to stop abortions from happening. However, it was found that the countries with the most strict abortion policies and the countries with the least restrictive abortion policies both had around 34-37 abortions per 1,000 women. This data shows that making safe medical abortions inaccessible is harmful to women since the number of women who get abortions is relatively the same.
Out of all of the medical abortions performed globally, 45% of them are unsafe, and 97% of the unsafe abortions took place in developing countries, such as Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). These developing regions have the most-restrictive laws when it comes to abortion. A lack of safe, affordable, and accessible medical abortions can harm women’s physical and mental health. Some examples of physical health risks include infection, hemorrhage (heavy bleeding), uterine perforation, and damage to the genital tract and organs.
What is TeleMedicine?
Telemedicine is where health services can be conducted online over video chats. With telemedicine, people could get valuable healthcare that they may otherwise need to travel to access. Telehealth is specifically beneficial for rural or underserved communities that are far away from clinics. These people can now get the medical care they need without leaving their homes. For example, telemedicine has become a popular option in East Africa since there is a shortage of doctors and a low doctor-to-patient ratio. Now, the medically underserved can have video consultations from wherever they are.
The recent popularization of telemedicine was also largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the main reasons was that it was unsafe to enter crowded public places unless essential. Because of this, people did not want to physically go into the doctor’s office for fear of getting sick. Especially if they just needed a yearly checkup or a consultation about non-urgent issues. Telemedicine became a popular solution since people could get medical care while social distance.
Telehealth for Medical Abortions
Medical abortions would greatly benefit from telehealth. Telehealth cuts out the need for travel, which is significant since most countries lack regular abortion providers. For instance, women in Ireland and Canada have been traveling to the UK to get abortions since the 1960s. But now, with telehealth, women can quickly get access to medication. Patients who do not live near an abortion clinic can make a telehealth appointment and get prescribed abortion pills. People who earn a lower income will also benefit from telehealth since there won’t be any costs for child care, transportation, or time missed from work to get medical abortions. Research has also shown that abortion consultations through telehealth are viewed as safe and effective as in-person clinics.