AP

Planned Parenthood starts telemedicine abortions in Kansas

Dec 20, 2022, 7:35 AM | Updated: Dec 21, 2022, 10:43 am

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Planned Parenthood affiliate announced Tuesday that it has started teleconferences with off-site doctors for patients seeking medication abortions at one of its Kansas clinics, a small step toward potentially much broader access in a state that has become a destination for the procedure after an August vote affirming abortion rights.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains said it began offering telemedicine consultations Monday to patients visiting its Wichita clinic. President and CEO Emily Wales said the immediate goal is to have more days that patients can go there to get medication abortions. She said her affiliate hopes to offer the service to patients visiting its other two clinics on the Kansas side of the Kansas City area “in short order” and eventually to allow patients in doctors’ offices and clinics across the state to teleconference with its physicians.

The move comes as Kansas abortion providers say they are seeing a flood of requests for appointments from women in states with more strenuous restrictions on abortion than Kansas — particularly Oklahoma and Texas. Kansas voters in August decisively voted to retain state constitutional protections for abortion rights.

The announcement also came less than a month after a state-court judge blocked enforcement of Kansas’ ban on telemedicine abortions. The abortionfinder.org website lists 26 other states in which residents seeking abortion medications can teleconference with doctors, including Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Wyoming. However, for some states, the website lists only online pill providers, such as Aid Access or carafem.

“My vision for telehealth medication abortion is the same as my vision for abortion generally, which is that it would be widely accessible by many providers,” Wales said in an interview ahead of the announcement.

The blocked Kansas law required a doctor to be in the same room with a patient taking what is typically the first of two doses of medication to end a pregnancy. Another provider, a Wichita clinic operated by the abortion rights group Trust Women, offered telemedicine abortions for a few months late in 2018 but stopped because the legal climate was uncertain at the time.

Trust Women also expects to offer telemedicine abortions but has said it is considering what additional staff and infrastructure it will need.

Eighteen states have bans on telemedicine abortions in place, according to national groups on both sides of the debate. They include Arizona, Indiana, Nebraska and North Carolina.

Kansans for Life, the state’s most politically influential anti-abortion group, responded to what it called Planned Parenthood’s “dark announcement” by promising to consider “every possible course of action,” including legislation.

Abortion opponents have long argued that telemedicine bans protect women’s health by ensuring a physician is present to deal with major problems, though research has shown that abortion pills are safe.

The long-term goal, Wales said, is to work with a network of doctors or clinics across the state so that women don’t have to travel to Wichita or the Kansas City area to obtain abortion medications.

Patients in states with more restrictive abortion laws still would have to travel to Kansas, as they do now. Doctors doing the teleconsulting also would have to be licensed to practice medicine in Kansas, as they must be now.

For now, Planned Parenthood Great Plains is using existing staff and physicians to offer telemedicine abortion consultations to patients in Wichita. Wales said while the clinic sometimes has a doctor there three or four days a week, one day a week is typical. Her affiliate’s medical director, Dr. Iman Alsaden, said there would have been no abortion appointments Monday in Wichita without teleconferencing.

The Planned Parenthood affiliate already offers some telehealth services, such as refilling birth control prescriptions or gender-affirming care visits for transgender patients. Wales said it’s still deciding day-by-day how quickly to expand telemedicine abortion appointments.

Abortion providers had to wait until this year for a clearer picture of the legality of telemedicine abortions. The statewide vote in August preserved a Kansas Supreme Court ruling in April 2019 that access to abortion is a “fundamental” right under the state constitution.

The vote came as Trust Women was pursuing a lawsuit to against the state’s ban on telemedicine abortions. That lawsuit led to the state-court judge’s order blocking enforcement of the Kansas telemedicine abortion ban.

“We’re pretty confident that the courts are on our side and that we have a very strong legal leg to stand on,” said Erin Thompson, Planned Parenthood Great Plains’ general counsel.

___

Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Arizona will not approve new housing construction on the fast-growing edges of metro Phoenix that r...

Associated Press

Arizona Senate passes plan to manage rural groundwater, but final success is uncertain

A plan to manage rural groundwater passed the Arizona Senate amid concerns about the availability of sufficient water for future generations.

1 day ago

A woman pauses while shopping at a Kohl's store in Clifton, N.J., Jan. 26, 2024. On Thursday, Feb. ...

Associated Press

Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge picked up last month in sign of still-elevated prices

An inflation gauge favored by the Federal Reserve increased in January, the latest sign that the slowdown in U.S. consumer price increases is occurring unevenly from month to month.

2 days ago

This undated image provided by Mikel Desmond shows his brother Marcus Tessier, who turned up in Dem...

Associated Press

Missing teen with autism found in New Mexico, about 200 miles away from his Arizona home

A missing teen with autism has been found in New Mexico — about 200 miles away from his home in southern Arizona.

2 days ago

A newly released report on last year’s fatal crash involving a pickup truck and a group of bicycl...

Associated Press

Report suggests steering of vehicle that caused fatal Goodyear bicycle crash worked fine

A new report on last year’s fatal Goodyear bicycle crash has cast doubts about the driver’s claim the vehicle’s steering locked up.

3 days ago

Israeli Embassy...

Associated Press

US airman dies after setting himself ablaze outside Israeli Embassy in Israel-Hamas war protest

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

5 days ago

Biden and Trump to visit Mexico border Thursday immigration...

Associated Press

Biden and Trump both plan trips to the Mexico border Thursday, dueling for advantage on immigration

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will make dueling trips to the U.S-Mexico border on Thursday.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Planned Parenthood starts telemedicine abortions in Kansas