In a research study released Thursday, the American Journal of Public Health said there was a decline in the number of abortions performed after 2008, when the method -- in which a woman visits a clinic and obtains a pill after a videoconference with a doctor at another site -- was made available.
A key finding of the study was that remotely administered abortions provided more access to the procedure for women who could not ordinarily consult a doctor, said the study's co-author, Daniel Grossman.
"The most important thing is that it showed how access was improved after telemedicine was introduced," Grossman said, adding the study found a decrease in the number of abortions performed during the second trimester of pregnancy, when risks of complication are higher.
In the telemedicine method, a patient is first examined by a nurse, typically at a small-town clinic, and then interviewed by a doctor via teleconferencing. Once the doctor determines the medication is appropriate, he or she pushes a button that opens a drawer, containing the pills, in front of the patient.
She takes the first pill while the doctor observes, and then takes the remainder of the pills at home to abort the pregnancy, The Des Moines (Iowa) Register reported Friday.