Medication abortion through telemedicine as safe as in person

Women in the United States sometimes have to travel hundreds of miles to access abortion care, creating a significant burden on their already busy lives. Offering medication abortion through telemedicine is a promising option for making abortion more accessible, but some states have restricted its use based on claims that it is unsafe.

Pivotal new research from ANSIRH and Ibis Reproductive Health shows that this is not the case. The study looked at data from Iowa patients who received a medication abortion either via telemedicine or in person. Of the nearly 20,000 patients studied, only 49 complications were reported, and there was no difference in the complication rate between women who had an in-person visit and those who received the service via telemedicine.

Women who received abortion care via telemedicine underwent the same evaluation as those with an in-person visit, including having an ultrasound, which was viewed remotely by the physician. The doctor met with the patient by secure videoconference, and if she was eligible, the doctor remotely dispensed the medication. Women returned to the clinic about one week later to confirm that the abortion was successful.

This study was large enough to conclude that providing medication abortion via telemedicine is not associated with a higher risk of complications compared to in-person provision. These findings add to previous research showing that telemedicine medication abortion is just as effective as meeting with the physician in person, and satisfaction was also high among those receiving telemedicine services. This is critical information for policymakers and clinicians as they look to make safe abortion care more accessible.