Pro-abortion advocates are exploring how technology might preserve or even expand women’s access to abortion if the Supreme Court scales back Roe v. Wade.
A nonprofit group is testing whether it’s safe to let women take abortion pills in their own homes after taking screening tests and consulting with a doctor on their phones or computers. Because the study is part of an FDA clinical trial, the group isn’t bound by current rules requiring the drugs be administered in a doctor’s office or clinic.
The group, called Gynuity Health Projects, is carrying out the trial in five states that already allow virtual doctors to oversee administration of the abortion pill, and may expand to others. If the trial proves that allowing women to take the pill at home is safe — under a virtual doctor’s supervision — the group hopes the FDA could eventually loosen restrictions to allow women to take pills mailed to them after the consult.
If FDA took that step, even women living in states with restrictive abortion laws could get around them, potentially blurring the strict boundaries between abortion laws in different states if — as is likely — the Senate confirms a high court justice who is open to further limits on Roe.
Right now, in states that allow a licensed provider to administer the abortion pill by video hookup, the provider must watch, in person or by video, as a woman takes the first medication in a clinic or other health care setting. The drugs abort the fetus without surgery but are effective only in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. If the group’s study shows it’s safe for women to administer the drug themselves after an online consultation with a health care provider, it will petition the FDA to lift the requirement.
If that were to occur — a big “if” under a Republican administration — states with more permissive abortion laws could expand access to the procedure to clinics served by video hookups, effectively reducing the long distances many women often travel to find a provider.
But it could also potentially boost access for women living in states with more restrictive laws as they might have an easier time obtaining prescriptions by mail, besides having a greater number of telemedicine clinics to go to if they were able and willing to travel across state lines.
Full story at Politico.