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Virginia patients will soon have access to at-home abortion medication

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Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 2:40 PM EDT
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Starting in October, Virginia patients will be able to access at-home abortion medication through telehealth visits.

Both Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood, which operate six clinics across the state, announced they’ll begin offering abortion medication through the mail after a virtual consultation with a provider. The service will be available across Virginia, eliminating the need for many patients to make an in-person visit.

“I think it opens another avenue for people,” said Dr. Shanthi Ramesh, medical director for the Virginia League. “Especially our patients who are living in rural areas or without reliable transportation.”

The service will only be available to patients who are nine weeks pregnant or less — a significant portion of all abortions performed. According to national data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just over 92 percent of all abortions occurred at 13 weeks or less. Anecdotally, Ramesh said roughly 75 to 80 percent of her patients were at nine weeks or below when the abortion was performed.

There’s also a screening process to ensure patients are eligible and rule out any rare conditions that could affect the procedure. Once they’re screened, patients can schedule a virtual visibt, which is mostly to answer questions and develop a follow-up plan, Ramesh said. Planned Parenthood will then provide the two medications involved — mifepristone and misoprostol — through the mail.

Mifepristone blocks the hormones produced during pregnancy, and misoprostol causes heavy cramping and bleeding, a process that’s very similar to a miscarriage. Traditionally, misoprostol is always taken by a patient at home, even when it’s provided at the clinic.

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.(Virginia Mercury)

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.

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