The state of Pennsylvania, along with the rest of the nation and a significant chunk of the planet, is on edge concerning COVID-19 (or, coronavirus, if you prefer that term). Understandably, we need to take action. The problem is that politicians are all too eager to slip in new measures to protect or advance their pet causes.
For Tom Wolf, the Governor of Pennsylvania, that cause is abortion access.
The Bill in question here is Senate Bill 857. Senate Bill 857 would expand telemedicine in Pennsylvania, which could be very helpful in this era of social distancing. Telemedicine would allow individuals to connect with their doctors without actually entering a doctor's office, and allow doctors to bill insurance for visits conducted over the internet.
Thankfully, to protect women and unborn children this bill includes language that would ban telemed abortions. If a woman is seeking an abortion, the abortionist would be required to administer abortion drugs in-person and at a health facility. These abortion drugs are not only dangerous for the baby, they have also been flagged by the FDA with serious safety concerns.
In fact, the new trend of at home or DIY abortions is so concerning that we created a new website, athomeabortionfacts.com, devoted to educating women about the risks associated with this practice and pointing them towards life-affirming options.
The language banning telemed abortion is good for our state, but there is the danger that this language will be taken out. If that happens, the new bill would allow for doctors to prescribe abortion drugs to young women without ever seeing them in person.
What does that mean?
It means that there has been no physical examination, there is no assurance that the young woman isn't be forced to take these drugs, there is no guarantee that the woman on the call is the one taking the drugs, and there is no guarantee that she is truly pregnant.
This incredibly unsafe practice has much more to do with profit than with patients. Telemed abortions increase the chances of error in calculating the gestational age of the pregnancy by not performing an in-person evaluation. It also endangers women with ectopic pregnancies by delaying this diagnosis that can lead to dangerous and perhaps even fatal results.
Further, if the at home abortion goes wrong, where will this mother go? Is her hospital equipped to handle a botched medication abortion? Will she be exposed to COVID-19 when she gets there?
Governor Wolf has threatened to hold up the telemedicine bill unless he can get the pro-life safeguards removed. This is ridiculous. A national crisis is not the time to threaten necessary legislation because it includes safeguards for mothers and babies.
Four Planned Parenthood locations in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, West Chester, Wilkes-Barre, and York) have already revealed to the PA Department of Health in recent inspections that they are adding telemedicine abortions (also called webcam abortions) to their list of services.
If the Pennsylvania State Senate removes this pro-life protection in Senate Bill 857, Planned Parenthood will almost certainly be performing abortions by video this year. Is this what we want for Pennsylvania? Absolutely not.
If you want to ensure that these protections for mothers and children stay in this bill contact your state senator. You could truly save lives.
Special thanks to the PA Family Institute for keeping me up to date on this. Your work on behalf of these mothers and their children is a blessing!