Brave New World of Webcam Abortions

The most prominent abortion debates are taking place at the national level—over taxpayer funding of abortion and abortion funding in ObamaCare.  Those fights are important, pivotal even, especially in this time of fiscal duress.

But there are hundreds of other abortion battles happening at the state level.  So far this year, nearly 400 abortion-related bills have been introduced in state legislatures.

One of the most interesting and ominous of these battles involves so-called “webcam abortions.”  If they become common, such abortions will not only imperil women’s lives, they will also help eliminate what the abortion industry believes is the greatest threat to its survival.

Last week, the Nebraska Legislature’s Judiciary Committee voted down LB 521, also known as the “Stop Webcam Abortions” bill.  The law would have prohibited physicians from prescribing and dispensing abortion drugs via the Internet.

Part of the “virtual medicine” or “telemedicine” movement that’s been gaining strength over the past three years, webcam abortions allow abortionists to sell abortions without being in the same room, or even the same county or state, as the patient.

An abortion-seeking woman can simply head out to her nearest Planned Parenthood or other “health clinic” and receive some consultation from the abortionist via Internet videoconferencing.  Then, with the push of a remote button, the abortionist can open a drawer in the clinic that contains the abortion pills known as mifepristone (RU-486).  The patient takes one pill while in the office, and another several days later.

Taken during the first two months of pregnancy, mifepristone causes a chemical abortion by blocking hormones necessary for a pregnancy to continue.  More than 1 million such abortions have taken place in the U.S. since it was approved here a decade ago.  Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has performed more than 2,000 webcam abortions in Iowa since 2008.  Pro-life legislators in Nebraska introduced the bill to keep the practice from spreading across state lines.  Other states are also taking action to prohibit the procedure.

Pro-lifers have benefited most from technological breakthroughs.  Ultrasound technology has provided expectant parents with a window to the womb, prompting many ambivalent women to choose life after seeing the humanity of their unborn child.  Ultrasound has been one of the primary reasons why support for abortion, both in word and in deed, has dropped.

But technology itself is neither good nor bad, and it is now being employed to make abortion more convenient for women who do not live close to an abortion facility.

But abortion, even during the early stages of pregnancy, is fraught with possible complications.  The abortion pill regimen can last nearly two weeks and lead to prolonged, heavy bleeding, potentially serious bacterial infections and, in extreme cases, death. 

At least a dozen women have died due to complications caused by abortion drugs, including American Holly Patterson.  A week after taking the abortion pill regimen in 2003, the 18-year-old developed sepsis caused by an incomplete expulsion of her baby.  More than one thousand women have been injured by the drug in the U.S. alone, according to 2006 statistics by the Food and Drug Administration.  Webcam abortions are an important part of the abortion industry’s goal to expand its reach to every corner of the country.  One of the greatest obstacles to that goal is the lack of medical professionals willing to perform abortions.

Consequently, as Susan Hill of the National Women’s Health Foundation fretted to the Washington Post, “Our doctors are graying and are not being replaced.  … The situation is grave.”  According to the Guttmacher Institute, a public policy organization that analyzes reproductive trends, 87% of U.S. counties do not have an abortionist.

Abortion is a field largely reserved for pro-abortion zealots and money-grubbing butchers.  Few aspiring doctors, even those who support abortion rights, wish to spend their careers vacuuming baby body parts from uteruses of frightened young women.  “Safe, Legal, and Rare” was once a slogan deployed regularly by pro-abortion politicians who wanted to reassure voters that they were not the abortion extremists pro-lifers portrayed them as.

Democrats abandoned “rare” long ago, and that word was finally erased from the abortion plank of the Democratic National Party platform in 2008.

The gruesome actions of Kermit Gosnell, accused of murdering numerous babies and their mothers in his decrepit Philly abortion mill, and other back-alley abortionists have made inclusion of the term “safe” increasingly implausible.

Perhaps the abortion movement needs a fresh slogan to reflect fresh priorities.  I submit this one: “Abortion: Free, Deadly, and Convenient.”