Kansas Planned Parenthood Launches Telemedicine Abortions

People seeking abortions can now meet with off-site doctors via teleconferences at one of Planned Parenthood's Kansas clinics.

Key takeaways:
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    One of Planned Parenthood's Kansas clinics said on Tuesday that it would begin offering teleconferences with off-site doctors to patients seeking abortions pills.
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    Nearly two dozen states have taken steps to limit or totally ban abortion rights since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June.
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    Patients in states that prohibit telemedicine will still have to travel to Kansas or another abortion-friendly state.

The telemedicine consultations, which began Monday, are one of the first in a shift towards more access since Kansas voted to protect its abortion rights in August.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains President and CEO, Emily Wales, explained the two immediate goals for the Wichita, Kansas clinic to AP News:

To offer more days that patients can stop by the clinic for medication abortions.

To offer telemedicine and abortion services to patients in two clinics on the Kansas side of the Kansas City.

The longer-term goal is to eventually offer physician teleconferences with patients in clinics across all of Kansas.

In Kansas, a conservative state with strong ties to the anti-abortion movement, voters turned down a ballot issue that would have given the Republican-controlled Legislature more power to restrict or outlaw abortion.

The law that was blocked in Kansas said that a doctor had to be in the same room when a patient took the first of two doses of medicine to end a pregnancy.

Opponents of abortion claim that telemedicine bans protect women's health by making sure a doctor is in the room in case of major health problems. However, research has shown that abortion pills are safe.

Recently, there have been several reports that Kansas is struggling to keep up with abortion demand from women in states with stricter abortion laws.

At AbortionFinder.org, women can look through a complete list of trusted abortion service providers and resources in the U.S. The site features 26 other states that offer teleconferences with doctors to get abortion medication, including Nevada, Illinois, and California.

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, nearly two dozen states have taken steps to limit abortion rights. Of that group, 14 states have outright banned nearly all abortions.

This means that more people, especially those with low incomes and fewer resources, will have to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. This includes women in maternal care deserts, or any county in the U.S. without a hospital or birth center offering maternal care.

A recent analysis found that Mississippi has the highest percentage of maternal care deserts at nearly 24 percent.

Eight of the ten states with the most people who don't have access to maternity care also have abortion bans. These states include Mississippi, South Dakota, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky, and Louisiana.

Abortions done through teleconferences are usually done with the help of two different drugs. The first drug, mifepristone, stops a hormone that is needed to keep an early pregnancy going. The second drug, misoprostol, makes the uterus contract to push out the pregnancy.

Even though the FDA approved the pills in 2000, they were far less common than "surgical" abortions until 2020. Now, just over half of all abortions in the United States are done with abortion pills.

Because several states have bans on telemedicine, patients in those states would still have to travel to Kansas, or other states that allow abortion, to complete the procedure.

Pro-choice advocates continue to push for more resources for abortions.

My vision for telehealth medication abortion is the same as my vision for abortion generally, which is that it would be widely accessible by many providers,” Wales said in an interview.

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