Abortion clinics in Minnesota have begun using webcams to remotely administer abortion drugs to patients in rural communities, according to reports.
Planned Parenthood recently began prescribing RU 486, an abortion pill, at its Rochester, Minnesota clinic by remotely connecting patients to doctors at its St. Paul, Minnesota center.
The remote medical practice, known as telemedicine, is already in place in many rural communities across the nation, but anti-abortion activists say that the service puts more women at risk.
“Marketing the abortion drug as simple and painless, such as taking an aspirin, is dangerously misleading to women,” said Jeanne Monahan of the Family Research Council.
According to a report issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 14 women have died as a result of taking RU 486 and more than 600 have been hospitalized since the drug hit the market.
The most common side effects of the drug are abdominal pain, bleeding, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, according to a Planned Parenthood report. These are similar to those of a spontaneous miscarriage.
“The risk of death associated with childbirth is about 10 times as high as that associated with all abortion,” according to a fact sheet distributed by Planned Parenthood.
Opponents aim to stop the practice from expanding to other states.
The patient is not seen in person by a physician, Susan Armacost, the legislative director of Wisconsin Right to Life, said of the webcam meetings. The pills are dispensed from a drawer in the room and given to the patient while the doctor watches the woman take the drugs via remote connection.
“Given the grave dangers associated with RU 486, Planned Parenthood’s potential plan to bring web-cam RU 486 abortions to towns and cities in Wisconsin should be of grave concern to anyone concerned with the health and welfare of women,” Armacost said.
The pills are only effective in women who are less than nine weeks pregnant, according to Planned Parenthood.
But the method of providing the pill to patients seems to be moving to the front of the abortion debate.
The webcams, according to Armacost, do not help women in rural communities, but rather is another way for abortion clinics to make money without investing in equipment and paying more doctors.
“Planned Parenthood’s utter disregard for the health and safety of women is appalling,” she said.
It is unclear how many times RU 486 has been prescribed by the remote service offered in some states.