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The wave of restrictive abortion bans may force telemedicine providers to get more creative

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Last month, Missouri narrowly missed becoming the first state in the country without abortion access, when the state’s sole abortion clinic was nearly shut down by the health department. The clinic, which is operated by Planned Parenthood, remains licensed for now, but the standoff follows a slew of escalating abortion bills across the country, including one in Missouri that outlaws abortions any later than eight weeks into a pregnancy. In May, Louisiana signed a bill banning abortion as early as six weeks, following in the footsteps of states like Georgia and Kentucky.

None of these laws have gone into effect just yet, and most will likely be contested in courts for months. But all of them severely undermine abortion rights, some in states where clinics are already few and far between. Another option is abortion via telemedicine, which involves a medication abortion induced by a duo of pills: mifepristone and misoprostol. The model for telemedicine abortion varies, but patients usually consult with a physician via videoconference and undergo a handful of required exams prior to taking these pills.

But as states like Georgia limit access to abortion procedures, routes for telemedicine abortion might also be curtailed. At the very least, it’s unlikely telemedicine abortion will be expanded further or prove a viable alternative for people who have little access to in-clinic abortions. Telemedicine abortion is already barred in 17 states, all of which require that the physician in question be physically present during the procedure.

Planned Parenthood, which provides telemedicine abortions in 14 states including Georgia, uses the site-to-site model, which means patients still have to go into a health center for a video consult with a physician. For people........

© Fast Company