By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D. NRL Director of Education & Research
Overnight, the state of Maine has gone from having three abortion clinics, all in the state’s major metropolitan areas, to having twenty abortion clinics scattered throughout the state.
How is that possible?
Up until this week, Maine Family Planning (MFP) had generally done abortions only at its Augusta clinic. Planned Parenthood did abortions in Portland, while another private group, the Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center performed abortions in Bangor.
Now, after a limited pilot program in a couple of Maine’s more rural counties, MFP has launched a webcam abortion program at all eighteen of the group’s locations across the state. Maine thus joins Minnesota and webcam pioneer Iowa as states where chemical abortions are currently facilitated by webcams.
Maine’s new webcam procedure is similar to what has been used in some of these other states, but with some slight variations.
MFP says it screens women over the phone, determining that they are not more than 70 days from their last menstrual period (LMP).
The official cut-off in the protocol from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was 49 days. However many in the industry have used an alternative protocol which goes to 63 days LMP. A few, like Maine, go higher. The concern has been that the abortion drugs lose “effectiveness” as the baby grows and the pregnancy progresses. It is also thought that side effects increase as well.
If she meets that criteria, the woman comes into her local MFP clinic and meets with a nurse practitioner who talks about her options, takes her medical history, and does her initial lab testing and ultrasound, and obtains what passes for informed consent in Maine.
In other webcam programs such as Iowa’s, the mother may see only a certified medical assistant equipped only with a couple of classes from a nearby community college. Ultrasounds are common – to date the gestation and rule out ectopic pregnancy – but are not mandatory.
If the nurse practitioner determines the woman to be “medically eligible,” the patient videoconferences with a physician at some central MFP location. He reviews her records, discusses the abortion process and, if satisfied, prescribes the two drugs [misoprostol and mifepristone] that make up the “RU-486” abortion technique
None of the news articles details the exact doses (FDA protocol had three PILLS of the mifepristone, two of misoprostol; the protocol pro-abortionists prefer uses one of first, four of the second). Nor do they describe how the woman gets the drugs, whether they are handed to her by the nurse practitioner, or whether, as in Planned Parenthood Iowa’s affiliate, they are released from a desk drawer which has been remotely unlocked by the physician.
We are told that the woman takes the mifepristone there, on camera, while the physician watches. She takes the prostaglandin misoprostol home with her to take six to 48 hours later, after the mifepristone has had an effect.
Mifepristone blocks the mother’s progesterone receptors, shutting down the baby’s life support system. Misoprostol initiates powerful, painful contractions to expel the tiny emaciated corpse.
Nor is there a description of the woman’s encounter with the aborted child, but MFP admits that side effects include heavy bleeding and cramping, nausea, and stomach upset. Those familiar with the chemical abortion process know that these are common and can be quite serious.
It is not clear what MFP expects this “person” to do, but the Bangor Daily News (BDN, 2/9/16) reports that “Patients must agree to have a support person by their side as the pregnancy is terminated.” One supposes such a person would be available to get the patient to a hospital if emergency help was needed.
We are told that MFP has the patients return to the clinic a week later to determine whether or not they are still pregnant. If they are, BDN says “patients must agree to end the pregnancy by another method that uses suction to empty the uterus.”
Promoters of the webcam abortion, such as Daniel Grossman of the infamous abortion academy at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), argue that these “improve access to early abortion [and] decreases later abortion,” which he asserts “would result in improved health outcomes” (Mother Jones, 2/29/16).
These claims are, at the least questionable, similar to ones Grossman has made in the past.
Little mention is made of the number of women who have suffered serious medical complications like hemorrhage, ruptured ectopic pregnancy, or significant infections, or even died, after taking these drugs.
The ability of groups like MFP and Planned Parenthood to reach out to women in rural areas with webcam abortions will seem like less of an advantage when a woman or her “support person” are scrambling to get her to emergency medical help.
This is why a number of states have passed legislation requiring that the prescribing physician actually be in the same room as the patient receiving the drugs. Her health and safety should be somewhat more secure if she is physically examined and screened by the doctor and that doctor is close by if and when she begins to have problems.
Such a requirement makes sense, if a woman’s safety is the aim, rather than just expanding the abortion business and allowing an abortionist to sit in his office and make some easy money with a couple of clicks of his computer mouse.
Proponents want to argue that the webcam abortion is just another application of “telemedicine,” which enables doctors to see and treat patients remotely. The additional risk involved may be worth it when someone is trying to save a life and there is no alternative way to obtain urgent care. But it is not good medicine when it involves exposing a perfectly healthy woman to significant risk and is done to take, rather than to preserve, a human life.
Maine’s legislature has not previously considered legislation that would limit these abortions, but could do so now that this development has become known. Hopefully before more women and their unborn children die.