Whole Woman’s Health brings dangerous ‘webcam abortions’ to Minneapolis

The abortion provider was fined in Texas for illegal practices

WholWomansHeathlogoMINNEAPOLIS—The state’s newest abortion center is bringing a dangerous Internet abortion method to Minneapolis. Texas-based Whole Woman’s Health, which purchased a second abortion center in downtown Minneapolis in November, revealed in a Bloomberg interview that it plans to add “webcam abortions” to its offerings, which also include surgical abortions.

Webcam abortions involve RU486, the chemical abortion method that requires taking two drugs, two days apart (neither is “emergency contraception”). The first, mifepristone, cuts off nutrition to the developing unborn child, causing it to die. The second drug, misoprostol, induces powerful contractions to expel the now-dead baby. The process can take from a few days to several weeks, and in rare cases does not work at all.

At least 14 women are known to have died in the U.S. from RU486 (September 2000-April 2011), according to the Food & Drug Administration. Many died from sepsis, hemorrhage or an undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy. More than 2,000 others have suffered adverse effects.

As a result, women have petitioned the FDA to remove this dangerous drug from the market to prevent more deaths. The RU486 method accounted for 2,175 abortions in Minnesota in 2011, according to the Minnesota Department of Health—about 20 percent of the statewide total.

The webcam abortion method exacerbates the risks of RU486 to women. The abortionist prescribes the drugs via videoconferencing [“webcam”], meaning he is not in the same room as the pregnant woman. And because he is not physically present, he cannot examine her to determine whether the woman is at risk of an ectopic pregnancy or another complication. Nor is the abortionist there if there is a subsequent complication.  The woman sits in front of a computer; the doctor is typically in another city or state. After a conversation, the abortionist hits a button to open a drawer containing the two drugs. The woman ingests the first and takes the other home to have her abortion alone.

“Another abortion provider in our state is willing to put women’s lives at even greater risk by offering webcam abortions,” lamented Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). Planned Parenthood brought dangerous webcam abortions to the state in 2010. “Whole Woman’s Health is seeking to increase its revenues at the expense of women’s health.”

Whole Woman’s Health (WWH) was fined $83,000 in Texas, along with its medical waste vendor, for illegally dumping the remains of aborted babies in open trash receptacles. Eight of its abortionists were disciplined by the Texas Medical Board for numerous allegations, including the illegal dumping of private patient medical records, HIPAA violations, and violations of Texas informed consent laws. Several WWH abortionists have previous disciplinary histories.

“Their past record demonstrates that Whole Woman’s Health has been willing to violate the law. This only underscores the need to license and inspect abortion facilities in the state,” Fischbach said. MCCL supports S.F. 752/H.F. 900 to require licensing of abortion facilities.

Legislation to ban webcam abortions was passed by the Minnesota Legislature in 2012, but vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton.