Creative Uses of Technology to Give Rural Women Access to Reproductive Health in Iowa

This is pretty cool. In an effort to provide safe, effective access to abortion a clinic in Iowa is using video-conferencing for patients to walk them through taking abortion medication, a method of abortion that is growing in popularity. There is of course criticism of going through a medical procedure with a doctor that is not in the room, but it sounds like it is not that different (and why do people always forget about the nurses?).

In the Planned Parenthood offices here, a demonstration of the abortion procedure by teleconferencing reveals a process that feels not unlike any ordinary doctor’s office visit, but for the doctor appearing on a computer screen on the desk and the unexpected sight of a cash register drawer eventually flinging open with the needed drugs.
Before the videoconference begins, a patient in a distant clinic meets (in person) with a nurse. There, blood tests, a medical history, an exam, an ultrasound and counseling on matters like what to expect from the procedure and plans for a follow-up exam are completed. The results are shared (by computer) with a doctor miles away, and the doctor and the patient (at all times accompanied by the nurse, who sits beside her) meet by videoconference over a private network.

Talk about a creative use of technology. I will never cease to be amazed at what activists in our country make possible despite so many obstacles. This is a very effective and practical solution to getting abortion access to rural women. And important to note that there have been no serious complications and patients have been happy with the results overall.

Join the Conversation