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Virginia could see an increase in telehealth abortions following Roe decision

Supreme Court-Abortion-Medication
Allen G. Breed
Bottles of the drug misoprostol sit on a table. The drug is one of two used together in "medication abortions."

One of the many things that the pandemic changed was the approach doctors take to consulting with patients. That will play an important role in the upcoming debate over abortion.

Most abortions in America are not surgical procedures. They're performed with medications, according to the Guttmacher Institute. And Virginia is one of about two dozen states that allows abortion through telehealth. Patients can consult prescribers virtually and receive pills by mail, and Tarina Keene at Repro Rising says now that Virginia is expecting an influx of patients coming from border states where abortion is illegal, telehealth abortion will take an increasingly important role.

"If we can keep medication abortion legal and accessible by telehealth, it really will be the game changer in this post-Roe era because we don't want to see people resort to desperate measures as they did pre-Roe," Keene says.

Steven Aden at Americans United for Life says telehealth abortions are not safe.

"The practice of the abortion industry now to promote the use of chemical abortion without a physical exam is reckless and dangerous because under those circumstances when a woman gets pills over the internet or by mail, they can't rule out an ectopic pregnancy," Aden says.

If lawmakers take action to outlaw abortion in Virginia, patients might still be able to get pills from other states or even other countries.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and the Alexandria Gazette Packet. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. He is the author of four books.