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The Case for Telemedical Early Medical Abortion in England: Dispelling Adult Safeguarding Concerns.


The Case for Telemedical Early Medical Abortion in England: Dispelling Adult Safeguarding Concerns. Thumbnail




Access to abortion care has been hugely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This has prompted several governments to permit the use of telemedicine for fully remote care pathways, thereby ensuring pregnant people are still able to access services. One such government is that of England, where these new care pathways have been publicly scrutinised. Those opposed to telemedical early medical abortion care have raised myriad concerns, though they largely centre on matters of patient safeguarding. It is argued that healthcare professionals cannot adequately carry out their safeguarding duties if the patient is not in the room with them. These concerns lack empirical support. Emerging evidence suggests that safeguarding processes may, in fact, be more effective within telemedical abortion care pathways. In this article, we address two specific safeguarding concerns: (1) that a remote consultation prevents a healthcare professional from identifying instances of abuse, and (2) that healthcare professionals cannot reliably confirm the absence of coercion during a remote consultation. We demonstrate that such concerns are misplaced, and that safeguarding may actually be improved in telemedical care pathways as victims of abuse may find it easier to engage with services. It is inevitable that some individuals will fall through the net, but this is unavoidable even with in-person care and thus does not constitute a strong critique of the use of telemedicine in abortion care. These safeguarding concerns set aside, then, we argue that the current approval that enables telemedical early medical abortion should be afforded permanence.

Acceptance Date Oct 12, 2021
Publication Date Mar 1, 2022
Journal Health Care Analysis
Print ISSN 1065-3058
Publisher Springer Verlag
Pages 73 - 96
Publisher URL


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