The word tele-abortion probably produces images of futuristic doctors' offices and odd electronic tools. To the untrained ear, it sounds a little silly. However, tele-abortions are likely to change the future of reproductive healthcare.
ASU students need to be proactive in making this form of abortion accessible. A woman should be able to decide which abortion method she feels most comfortable with, instead of the state dictating this for her.
Despite their ability to influence the field of reproductive healthcare, many students do not have a solid understanding of what tele-abortions are and how they are affected by them.
Tele-abortions are abortions that are administered via medication instead of surgery. The patient is counseled electronically or via a phone call and receives the pill in the mail – essentially the whole process is done remotely.
Tele-abortions could increase access to abortions for those who live too far away to commute to a clinic. This could mean major changes for the reproductive healthcare of those living in poor and/or rural areas of a state.
Tele-abortions also allow women in pro-life states to seek abortions safely and discretely, so they can avoid the criticism and stigmas associated with abortion.
“The idea that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land does not mean access is available,” Planned Parenthood Communications Specialist Tayler Tucker said. “In the last five to 10 years, we have seen a lot of chipping away at that access through state regulations.”
Tele-abortions are administered through a combination of pills — mifepristone and misoprostol, taken 24 to 48 hours apart.
Studies show that the medication method leads to fewer associated complications than the traditional abortion procedures. The abortion pill is 95 percent effective, with less than 1 percent experiencing complications.
Still, the FDA requires that that the first pill is taken with a medical provider physically present. This significantly limits access for women in rural or restricted states.
It is counterintuitive that surgical abortion is more accessible than tele-abortion. The pill method is proven to be much safer, and online counseling has shown to have no impact on the effectiveness or the safety of this method.
Thus, there is is no substantial reason to regulate the abortion pill, except to limit access.
Limiting access will not limit abortions. Women will simply use DIY methods that are extremely unsafe and often deadly.
Students need to have more of an active voice in seeking equal access to abortion, whichever method the patient may choose. After all, they are the future of reproductive healthcare and rights. Accordingly, they need to understand how tele-abortion access affects them.
Access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare should not be considered a luxury, it should be considered a right.
Tele-abortion regulations may not touch the lives of many students, but as the voices of the future, we need to be advocating for everyone’s future, not just ours.
Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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