At a recent PA House Health Committee hearing, Keara Klinepeter, Executive Deputy Secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, was asked whether medical (chemical) abortions require a face-to-face appointment with a physician. She replied, “At this time they do require a face-to-face appointment, I believe. I don’t believe we allow telemedicine abortions.”
She’s wrong. Dead wrong.
Telemedicine abortions are occurring right now in Pennsylvania, offered and sold by Planned Parenthood, Pennsylvania’s largest abortion provider. And the Department of Health knows it.
First, Planned Parenthood informed the Department of Health of performing telemdicine abortions starting in 2019. At least four Planned Parenthood locations (Philadelphia, West Chester, Wilkes-Barre, York) specifically informed the PA Department of Health that they are now using telemedicine services, with two locations (Wilkes-Barre, York) specifically stating they offer abortion as a telemed service.
- Philadelphia (Comly Road) – “an occupancy survey conducted onsite on September 6, 2019, and offsite December 5, 2019 for PPSP Far Northeast, which included addition of Telemedicine Services…”
- West Chester – “occupancy survey conducted onsite (at the distant site location) on September 6, 2019, and offsite December 5, 2019 for PPSP WestChester, which included addition of Telemedicine Services…”
- Wilkes-Barre – “occupancy survey conducted on January 13, 2020 and January 29, 2020, at Planned Parenthood Keystone-Wilkes Barre which included Tele Medication Abortion administration.”
- York – “This report is the result of an occupancy survey conducted on August 6, 2019 at Planned Parenthood Keystone-York which included adding TeleMedication Abortion.“
Second, in response to the House hearing, Planned Parenthood boldly touted their use of telemedicine abortion. “Planned Parenthood Keystone proudly provides abortion through telemedicine” in their video response (starting at the 9:40 mark) to the hearing.
Lastly, even Pennsylvania Planned Parenthood’s political arm recently tweeted about “medication abortions” as a service offered through telemedicine.
Using telemedicine for abortions is a dangerous protocol that puts profits over patient safety. Chemical abortions involve serious risks. It’s why the FDA includes Mifeprex, the abortion pill, on the Risk Evaluations and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) list to only be delivered in-person in a healthcare facility due to the serious health risks.
As Jeanne Mancini points out in a recent op-ed:
“These risks will increase if an expansion in telemedicine abortion removes the current oversights that protect women, such as a doctor performing an ultrasound to rule out a deadly ectopic pregnancy (where the baby attaches to the fallopian tubes, not the uterine wall) and determining the gestational age of the baby. These determinations are impossible to make over the course of an online visit, and doctors shouldn’t be encouraged to prescribe drugs without performing an accurate risk assessment.”
Despite what the PA Department of Health claims, Pennsylvania is currently allowing telemedicine abortions. Planned Parenthood not only admits it, but brags about it. And this despite past FDA warnings against this practice.
Pennsylvania women would have been protected from the dangers of telemed abortions had Gov. Tom Wolf not vetoed legislation last session — legislation that would have specifically banned the use of the unsafe procedure of using telemedicine for abortion services.
Klinepeter shared her bias on the issue of abortion during her testimony, claiming abortion is a safe and essential procedure and encouraged legislators to provide more funding to abortion facilities. This is contrary to current state law that says it is the public policy of PA to favor childbirth over abortion and prevents any taxpayer funding of abortion.
Pennsylvania women and families deserve better.