By Dave Andrusko
NRL News Today readers may recall “Carafem.” In 2015 when we first wrote about Carafem, it had garnered what any start up enterprise most wants–publicity–and loads of it. Its owners had located in Chevy Case, Maryland, just a couple of blocks outside Washington, DC, and promised (as the Washington Post put it delicately) “a ‘spa-like’ experience for women with a very open and unabashed approach to pregnancy termination.”
“Open and unabashed” is one way of describing Carafem’s “services.” A less charitable, but far more honest assessment, is that it represented the latest extension of the hey-abortion-is-no-big-deal mantra that gives us women uploading their abortions onto YouTube [Emily Letts], unfunny “comedies” about casual hook-up/abortions [“Obvious Child”], and a defiant insistence that having an abortion is “as moral as the decision to have a child” (the feminist poet Katha Pollitt).
By all outward signs, Carafem is a success, It is very much into “teleabortions” where a woman never meets the abortionist in person. Ms. Magazine ran a glowing interview yesterday with Melissa Grant, the chief operations officer.
There we learn that “carafem, which opened their first abortion clinic in the Washington, D.C., metro area in 2015 and began offering telemedicine abortion in Georgia in 2019 through Gynuity Health Project’s TelAbortion study. Early in the pandemic, they expanded their TelAbortion services to Illinois and Maryland. In July of 2020, when a Maryland federal court lifted an FDA in-person distribution requirement for the abortion pill mifepristone, carafem expanded the service to still more states.”
Since then, President Biden’s FDA made the availability of mail-order abortion pills permanent. Now Carafem offers telemedicine abortion in 11 states– Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia and Vermont-plus the District of Columbia.
What do we glean from the interview with Grant conducted by Carrie Baker? How about raw numbers?
Carrie Baker: How many telemedicine abortion patients have you seen since the FDA restriction was lifted in July of 2020?
Melissa Grant: We’ve provided high-quality, safe and effective telehealth abortion care to several thousand clients.
How about availability?
Melissa Grant: They can either make an appointment through our website (carafem.org) or they can call us. We are open six days a week from about 8 o’clock in the morning till 8 o’clock at night. We have English and Spanish speaking agents, as well as translation services for multiple languages to try and be as welcoming and inclusive as possible.
How quickly can they get their abortion pill?
Melissa Grant: Most clients receive their medication within a day to three days. If they want it sooner, we can expedite. They will receive a tracking number, generally within a few hours, and they can track the medication on its way.
The interview is extension and a useful primer on how telemedicine abortions. One more question:
Carrie Baker: What are your motivations for offering telemedicine abortion? Why do you do this?
Melissa Grant: The main reason is to try to make sure that people who need this care can continue to receive it. People should be able to get abortions in the way that makes the most sense to them. And sometimes in their communities, they can’t.
You wouldn’t expect someone who provides chemical abortion pills through the mail to acknowledge that there are serious health risks. Grant adds her voice to the chorus of “safe, safe, and safe.”
But saying so doesn’t make it true.
Christina Francis is chair of the board of the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG). She has written extensively about the real danger—that posed by mifepristone/misoprostol. One example (underlining added):
One of the largest studies to date, which analyzed high-quality registry data obtained from nearly 50,000 women in Finland, found that the overall incidence of immediate adverse events is four-fold higher for medical abortions than for surgical abortions. The same study showed that nearly 7% of women will need surgical intervention — a significant number when you consider there are nearly 900,000 abortions per year in the U.S., 40% of which are medication abortions.
Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon, NRL Director of Education & Research, also noted,
Other studies, even some by abortion advocates, have found something similar — that chemical abortions have a much higher failure rate, that more of these women have complications, that more women show up in the emergency room needing surgical treatment for bleeding, to deal with “retained products of conception” — than what Dr. Miller reports here.
Take a few minutes out and read “Telemedicine Abortion Provider Melissa Grant: ‘Abortion? Yeah, We Do That.’”