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Women's Health

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The Abortion Pill Is Here, but Few May Actually See It


In addition to the extra training that is needed, another reason fewer individual ob-gyns or women's health care providers may be interested in learning about or offering pill-induced abortions is that many state laws have strict criteria that anyone providing abortions must follow. These include registering as an abortion provider or being licensed as one and making sure their offices comply with often bizarre regulations that stipulate everything from the size of the hallways to the flow of air through the office.

Many states also have strict laws about how the fetal tissue resulting from the abortion can be disposed of, and whether it must be examined. Some pill-induced abortions will occur after the woman leaves the doctor's office or clinic, and in some states, women who don't bring the remains of the abortion to their doctor put the doctor at risk for prosecution. Abortion clinics know these things, but experts say individual doctors probably have no clue about the obstacle course of medical and legal issues they will have to negotiate to offer abortion via a pill.

Another thing doctors may not welcome or be ready for is becoming a target for anti-abortion protesters. Some groups already are threatening to publicize the names of doctors willing to perform medical abortions and picket their offices.

Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, says his group has heard from plenty of interested people, but says "the phone isn't exactly ringing off the hook," with doctors saying they definitely want to provide pill-induced abortions in their office.

"It's a good option," Fitzsimmons says. "But it's not the revolution that some people have predicted."

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