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”Teleabortions”, effective in countries where ending a pregnancy is illegal

Researchers from the University of Texas and collaborators from other countries say that self-induced abortions using online telemedicine can be an effective solution in countries where abortion is prohibited by law.

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”Teleabortions” work by providing online assistance to a woman, having a specialist assessing her condition and providing her via mail with medical abortion pills such as mifepristone or misoprostol.

The researchers evaluated data from Women on Web (WoW) a nonprofit group that provides an online consultation service for women who live in countries where abortion is restricted.

WoW has concentrated their services especially in Ireland, where abortion is illegal. Concerns about the well-being of women in Ireland grew after the case of Savita Halappanavar made international headlines.

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Savita Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant when doctors told her a miscarriage is inevitable. But because of the abortion law, she had to continue to carry the baby. She died in a week of an infection.

The study lead by Abigail Aiken of the University of Texas at Austin on cases assisted by WoW showed that the rate of complications was no bigger than that of women using the abortion pill with the help of doctors in traditional settings.

The study sample involved 1,000 women in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland, which has a similar position on abortion.

Between 2010 and 2012, nearly 95 percent of the women studied reported that they ended their pregnancy without surgical intervention.

Ninety-three women were referred for further treatment by local doctors because of more severe symptoms, seven needed a blood transfusion, and 26 had to get antibiotics.

”Self-sourced medical abortions using online telemedicine can be highly effective, and outcomes compare favourably with clinical protocols”, Abigail Aiken noted.

Daniel Pruitt