May 24, 2024

abortion by telemedicine

June 11, 2010 

Hi there,

Amongst the intriguing stories this week is
one which deals with the incendiary issue of abortion. We don’t cover the
abortion debate too often, as it is well covered on dozens, if not hundreds, of
newsletters and websites and it tends to polarise readers. However, an
initiative of Iowa Planned Parenthood caught my eye. Its doctors are doing
abortions by telemedicine by prescribing the drug mifepristone to its rural clients.

This brings to the fore some interesting and
quite unexplored issues in medical ethics. Is medicine a personal relationship,
or just a service? Is the internet an adequate way of engaging in a doctor-patient
relationship? Can patient confidentiality be ensured? How can telemedicine
doctors ensure continuity of service?

This seems to be consistent with a growing
trend towards depersonalisation in society. Is it really where medicine should
go? Any ideas?


Michael Cook