(NRLC) Well, it didn’t take long and, of course, it wasn’t a coincidence.
Monday, Janet Woodcock, MDActing Director of the Biden Administration of the United States Food & Drug Administration, announced that the FDA was suspending regulations requiring abortion pills to be dispensed in person by certified health care providers from hospitals, clinics and authorized private practices.
On Tuesday, a new group, Abortion on Demand (AOD), announced it was launching a nationwide telemedicine service to make these pills available to women for home delivery by courier.
[Click here to subscribe to Pregnancy Help News!]
Although the Biden administration’s suspension of regulations on the distribution of mifepristone is meant to be “temporary”, applying only until the end of the pandemic, AOD founder Dr. Jamie Phifer , treats the “suspension” of the in-person requirement as an open door to the establishment of an ongoing telemedical abortion service. Chemical abortions (“medication abortion” in pro-abortion jargon) account for at least 39% of all abortions in the United States.
According to an interview from 04/13/21 to Marie Claire, Phifer is a Seattle-area family physician. An internet search shows that she is licensed to practice medicine in 49 states and the District of Columbia (only Michigan appears to be missing, for reasons that are unclear.) Marie Claireby Susan Rinkunas writing that Phifer “has been building the service for a year and a half, keeping it secret until such a policy change allows it to launch legally.”
With his typical flair for hype, Marie Claire hailed this as the nation’s “first large-scale telemedicine abortion service”, although the AOD has only launched in twenty states (and the District of Columbia) and there have been other webcams or telemedical abortions in several states in operation for years.
For example, the Planned Parenthood affiliate in Iowa launched webcam abortion in July 2008, screening women on a computer screen in remote storefronts and releasing pills from a desk drawer on the spot.
A group called Gynuity took this further with their TelAbortion “study”. The interviews were conducted by videoconference and the abortion pills were shipped to the woman’s home by overnight courier.
AOD’s configuration is similar to Gynuity’s, but perhaps covers three or four additional states.
The only difference between AOD and Gynuity seems to be that, although Gynuity was able to operate under FDA regulations as a “study”, now that those regulations are suspended, AOD is dropping the pretense of a study. Along with adding a few more states, Rinkunas tells us that Phifer is lowering prices, charging $239 for the pills, about $300 less than what women usually pay at the abortion clinic.
In what’s meant to be a gesture of goodwill – but could just as well be a move to avoid criticism that AOD is undermining brick-and-mortar clinics – Phifer says AOD will donate 60% of profits to the Abortion Care Network , a membership organization made up of independent clinics (primarily non-Planned Parenthood clinics).
Marie Claire points out that these independent clinics still have a role to play because they are “crucial for subsequent abortion care”. They perform 62% of abortions after the first trimester and 81% of abortions after 22 weeks. The magazine usefully notes that “teleservices cannot serve these populations”.
As Phifer describes it Marie Claire, the AOD teleservice model involves women watching a pre-recorded video explaining the process, followed by an online chat with the abortionist to screen patients and answer any questions. If he is satisfied with his answers, the abortionist sends him the pills. Depending on where the woman lives, the expected time from when the woman logs on to the AOD website to the arrival of her pills will be two and a half to five days.
Currently, AOD limits the sale of its pills to women who have had no more than 56 days after their last menstrual period (FDA protocol allows the pills to be used for up to 70 days) and patients aged at least 18 years old. They ask for photo ID in the video portion of the interview to confirm age. They also need a positive pregnancy test.
According to the test version of their websitethey do not require an ultrasound, but recommend that women who are likely to have subsequent pregnancies or who are at increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy have one.
They claim that “medical abortion” is “very safe” and that “emergencies are rare” not to mention the two dozen women who have died after taking these pills and the thousands who have suffered bleeding, infections or life-threatening ectopic pregnancy ruptures. They say they have a ‘board-certified doctor’ on call if needed, but suggest women with serious medical conditions should just call 911.
AOD hopes to expand into a few more states in the near future once it gets a license for its mail-order pharmacy. However, some states have laws prohibiting telemedicine (or simply requiring the doctor to be physically present to examine the patient and dispense pills) or requiring in-person ultrasounds.
Phifer says they deliberately chose the name “Abortion on Demand” to be provocative. She said Marie Claire‘s Rinkunas, “this is what we want, this is what we will try.” Phifer would really like to go further than just adding a few more states.
Tweet this: “Abortion on demand” – “that’s what we want, that’s what we’re going to try” – founder of national telemedicine abortion pill service
She admits, “I honestly think medical abortion should be over the counter.”
Editor’s note: This article was published by National Right to Life News and is reprinted with permission. international heartbeat manages the Abortion Pill Rescue® Network (APRN) and Pregnancy Help News.