The Drumbeat of Criticism of Webcam Abortions Continues to Sound

By Dave Andrusko

It’s encouraging to read follow-up stories which emphasize (as we pointed out here)  that webcam abortions do not make abortion either safe or rare.

A rehearsal of those simple truths was prompted by a man with impeccable pro-abortion credentials who a couple weeks back concluded in a study that web-cam abortions were “safe” and “effective” and the absence of the abortionist posed no danger to women ingesting the powerful two-drugs that make up a “RU486” abortion.

Well, let’s see. Dr. Daniel Grossman’s journey  includes a stay at the Population Council (the Population Council was the organization that brought RU486 to the U.S.). At Ibis Reproductive Health we learn his work includes “women’s experiences with misoprostol abortion” and “improving access” to “safe abortion in the US, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America.” So, not surprising, Dr. Grossman would have no qualms celebrating webcam abortions in the study found in the journal “Obstetrics and Gynecology.”

(But it should be noted, as NRLC’s Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon reminded me, that the primary emphasis seemed to on webcam abortion’s “acceptability.” Which is interesting, given that  25% of the women who had a webcam abortion later said they would have preferred being in the same room as the abortionist.)

Ericka Andersen, writing on the  Heritage Foundation blog today, parallels many of the insights and criticisms NRLC’s O’Bannon has honed over the years, adding additional ones of her own (http://blog.heritage.org/2011/08/05/tele-med-abortions-no-route-to-making-abortion-either-safe-or-rare). For example, “Making abortions more prevalent and delinking them from personalized medical care are ideological goals,” and that “at least 3,534 women have been mildly to fatally affected by the pill in question”—including 14 women who have died in the United States alone.

(For a complete breakdown of the complications and a thorough analysis, go to www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2011/07/what-the-fda-website-says-about-ru486)).

The physical absence of the abortionist is treated as if it has no significance. Pro-lifers strongly disagree.

“Of course, women can call Planned Parenthood if they have a problem, but exactly what are they to do when the doctor is a couple of hundred miles away?,” Dr. O’Bannon asks. “Even if she makes it to a nearby emergency room, doctors there may be unfamiliar with the chemical abortion process or its risks or complications.”

And even if they are fortunate enough to avoid hemorrhage or infection, O’Bannon notes, “for a certain percentage of women, these pills do not work. These women, if they are still determined to abort, will face a surgical procedure. Is Planned Parenthood expecting women from these rural areas to travel to the big cities to complete their abortions?”

Beyond the vitally important issue of safety and the fact that the use of webcams  will multiply the number of abortions (the whole point is to reach “underserved” women in rural areas), it’s crucial to remember there is a fundamental question that proponents slide by: abortion is different from medical procedures that have traditionally been offered via video conferencing.

As far back as a 1980 Supreme Court decision, even the justices (a strong majority of whom were pro-abortion) understood that “Abortion is inherently different from other medical procedures because no other procedure involves the purposeful termination of a potential life.” (Harris v. McRae). Note as well that the flip side, so to speak, of the campaign for webcam abortions is an attempt to allow non-physicians to administer RU486.

Only in the there-are-never-enough-abortions world of Planned Parenthood could you conclude that it is an “undue burden” on women to look out for their safety.

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