In a Guest Opinion in a Pittsburg USA newspaper, Dr Amesh Adalja wrote “Many people seek to restrict the rights of women to their own bodies while at the same time dictating how physicians and other health-care providers practice medicine.” He said ”When I survey all the technologies that will transform health care of the future for the better, I always return to the tremendous potential of telemedicine. Much like how Amazon transformed how we shop, telemedicine can bring health-care providers to your town (or even your home) through your phone or your computer. Such technology diminishes the need to travel for consultation and follow-up, acting as a force-multiplier that will positively disrupt health care.”
Telemedicine is already used for myriad specialties, spanning from the obvious dermatology, pathology and radiology to trauma surgery, pediatric cardiac intensive care, maternal-fetal medicine, and even the field of infectious disease. In many contexts, telemedicine acts not solely as a mechanism to reach areas without access to advanced sub-specialists, but to augment the care of those with high risk and complex conditions, such as traumatic injuries and HIV. Because of its proven value, telemedicine has been embraced by the medical community for almost every facet of medicine, save one: medical abortions, where politicians in some states have increasingly sought to regulate it to the point of virtual unavailability.
“A medical abortion is the terminating of an early (seven to nine weeks) pregnancy via a medication called Mifeprex. It is a major advance in reproductive medicine, as it eliminates the need, in many cases, for more costly and complicated later surgical abortions. It is safe and effective. Often, during the process of going through a medical abortion, consultation with a physician or, in some states, a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant, experienced in such treatments is needed to monitor the process and ensure that no further intervention is necessary. In areas of the country in which access to such providers is not convenient or available, telemedicine brings this treatment to women who choose to employ it.”
The approval of mifepristone is great news for women in Canada
The newspaper reported that, states such as Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa and many others have banned the use of telemedicine for medical abortions. In Arkansas, the same day those legislators passed a bill declaring a state emergency due to a lack of access to health care in underserved areas and encouraging the use of telemedicine, it passed a ban on the use of telemedicine for pregnancy terminations. Unfortunately in Pennsylvania, abortion as such is so heavily regulated under the Abortion Control Act and the Abortion Oversight Act that new laws basically have nothing left to regulate.
Dr Adalja asked “But why was this particular delimitation on the scope of telemedicine even pursued? Is it because of some inherent shortcoming of telemedicine unique to the area of reproductive medicine? No. There is not a justifiable medical reason for this restriction. The answer is that many people seek to restrict the rights of women to their own bodies while at the same time dictating how physicians and other health-care providers practice medicine — a double injury to the causes of liberty and free enterprise.”
More than 20 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states cannot criminally ban early-term abortions, declaring this “a rule of law and a component of liberty that we cannot renounce.” That the Court has repeatedly upheld this ruling has stymied would-be theocrats who have sought to place every conceivable burden — short of an outright ban — on the right of a woman to obtain an abortion. Such burdens trample physician autonomy along with women’s individual rights on the road to foisting a religiously derived view of fetal rights onto the entire populace.