Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, D.C., (PPMW) is now providing telehealth abortions to people with addresses in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C., according to a September 10 press release. After a phone screening and an online consultation, PPMW mails abortion drugs to the patient. Total cost for the service is $525, including a follow-up consultation and pregnancy test.
“PPMW is committed to providing safe, accessible, and culturally sensitive care to all of our patients,” PPMW Medical Director Dr. Serina Floyd said in the release. “With this expansion in medication abortion services, patients are able to connect with a provider in ways that are comfortable and convenient. Medication abortion at home provides the same excellent level of care that Planned Parenthood is known for.”
Advocates say that will allow women to get necessary care even though they may live hours away from the nearest clinic. Chemical abortions use two drugs: mifepristone and misoprostol. They have a narrow window when they can be used, and PPMW says the telehealth abortions are offered up to eight weeks and six days after the start of the patient’s last menstrual period.
That’s part of an expansion of access to abortions in Virginia and nationwide.
In 2020, Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) and House Majority Leader Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) sponsored The Virginia Reproductive Health Act in their chambers. When the bill became law, it eliminated a requirement that an ultrasound be performed 24 hours before an abortion. It also removed a requirement classifying as hospitals facilities providing more than five first-trimester abortions per month. It also allows licensed nursed practitioners to perform first-trimester abortions.
Additionally, the FDA has indicated it is relaxing enforcement of an in-person dispensing requirement for the abortion drugs. Facing pressure from House of Representatives Democrats and the ACLU, FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock wrote in April that after conducting a review of medical studies, the FDA would “exercise enforcement discretion” during COVID-19.
“The federal government had prescriptions and protective measures in place under the previous administration, and all of those restrictions and provisions have been removed under the Biden administration,” Virginia Society for Human Life President Olivia Turner told The Virginia Star.
The FDA approved mifepristone for use in 2000, according to The Reproductive Health Access Project. Abortion advocates say the drug is safe and essential, while pro-life advocates say taking it is medically risky. The FDA says it is safe and effective, but keeps the drug under a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy where healthcare providers oversee the administration of the drug.
Turner said, “There’s a claim that we need to have less restrictions on telemedicine when it comes to pregnancy services because women in rural areas can’t make the trip to an abortion facility. Well, that’s actually a red herring. But more importantly, why would we want to put women who might live in rural communities at greater risk, when taking these drugs could lead to permanent injury or death for her?”
Turner argued that properly caring for women includes having them see a doctor who can assess and help address the root causes of the need for an abortion. She said, “What kind of help does she really need? Why is ending this pregnancy so important? Is it perhaps that she is poor, has a dangerous relationship that she’s involved in? Is she afraid of losing her job, might have to drop out of school? What’s causing the pregnancy to be the problem?”
“Obviously every chemical abortion kills an unborn child, but the idea that Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion promoters are willing to take a chance on women’s health and well-being just so they can have the ability to sell more chemical abortions is horrifying,” Turner said.
She argued that’s the real reason the Planned Parenthood, a non-profit, is supporting candidates in Virginia.
“What we’re looking at is a circumstance where, at every step in the road, the current legislative structure in Virginia, from the top down, has been advancing the agenda of abortion providers and the abortion industry,” Turner said. “And Virginia has to make a very serious decision right now, is this the kind of state we want to be?”