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Planned Parenthood to expand program that offers medical abortions through phone app

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Faced with restrictions on federal funding, the organization hopes to take its telemedicine program to all 50 states.

Planned Parenthood announced on Wednesday that it plans to expand its telemedicine app, which would allow women to get services including prescriptions for birth control and medical abortions through a smartphone. 

The organization currently offers the app in 27 states, and hopes to expand to all 50 by 2020. The move is seen as a response to the Trump Administration’s ban on allowing recipients of Title X money to refer women to abortion providers. Planned Parenthood announced last month that it is withdrawing from the Title X family planning program.

“As politicians across the country try to restrict or block access to critical reproductive and sexual health care, the Planned Parenthood Direct app is just one part of the work we do to ensure that more people can get the care they need, no matter where they are,” Planned Parenthood CEO and acting president Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement.

Paving the way for Wednesday’s announcement, Planned Parenthood released a study on August 15 that claimed that medical abortions in which doctors prescribe the drugs mifepristone and and misoprostol to terminate early pregnancy are as safe as those conducted by a doctor in a clinic. 

“As access to abortion shrinks across the country, telemedicine is one strategy for expanding patients’ access to safe, legal abortion, including for those living in remote or rural areas,” Dr. Julia Kohn, lead author of the study and the national director of research, evaluation and data analytics for Planned Parenthood.

According to a Catholic News Agency report, the Guttmacher Institute lists 18 states that require that a licensed physician be physically present during medical abortions. In theses states, abortions by telemedicine are illegal. 

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