By John Jalsevac

DES MOINES, Iowa, March 30, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A new report by the pro-life group Operation Rescue (OR) tackles the increasingly popular practice of “telemed” chemical abortions, which OR charges is putting women at “unacceptable” risk, as well as pushing up insurance costs due to the exorbitant rate that Planned Parenthood typically charges insurance companies for the procedure.

A telemed abortion is abortion via a teleconferencing service. Mothers seeking an abortion go to a clinic that has no physician on staff, and they then briefly visit with an off-site abortionist that appears on a computer monitor and explains the medical abortion procedure to them. Afterwards, the abortion drug RU486, also known as Mifepristone, is prescribed.

According to Operation Rescue, “The patient is never physically examined by the medical doctor prescribing the drugs – or any other, for that matter – and never sees the abortionist again.”

“Telemed” abortions like these are quickly becoming a cornerstone of Planned Parenthood’s abortion business.  OR says that according to a receptionist with Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, “medical abortions are offered in 16 clinics throughout Iowa, but only four of the clinics actually have doctors. At the other twelve, smaller clinics, telemed abortions have become routine.”

The problem of a lack of clear medical oversight in these abortions is emphasized by the fact that Mifeprisone, the main medical component of such abortions, has been linked to 8 deaths, as well as 1,100 serious complications, in the U.S. alone. According to OR, “medical abortions carry a 7-20 percent failure rate,” in which cases women would need to have the abortion completed surgically.

While medical abortions are often billed as a “hassle-free” alternative to surgical abortions, the risks that such abortions present were dramatically highlighted for the world recently by the pair of pro-abortion women who announced their plan to “Twitter” their medical abortions – that is, to issue regular electronic updates about the progress of the procedure. The first woman to do so expressed a desire to “demystify” the procedure, and the second said she wished to imitate the first.

In one case, however, instead of the few hours of bleeding that the mother expected, the abortion dragged out of a space of two weeks, during which she complained of "sharp" pain, cramping, bleeding, nausea, and headaches – discomfort that she evidently attempted to quell by popping the narcotic Vicodin, with little success.

In the other, the woman known only as "Nextthurs,”began tweeting her abortion on February 28. However, after three posts complaining about "bleeding like a stuffed [sic] pig all day," the tweets mysteriously ended.

In fact, Dr. Etienne-Emile Baulieu, the inventor of the medical abortion drug, has in the past highlighted the serious nature of using it: "It's insulting to women to say that abortion now will be as easy as taking aspirins. It is always difficult, psychologically and physically, sometimes tragic."

Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said, in releasing the new report on telemed abortions, that "The telemed abortion presents risks to women's lives and health that are completely unacceptable."

“The lack of access to a licensed physician throughout this risky and painful abortion process is shocking, and likely illegal. Money obviously means more to Planned Parenthood than the lives and safety of women."

Operation Rescue also revealed in its report that Planned Parenthood in Iowa charges insurance companies a whopping $1,000 for this doctor-less medical abortion - the highest in the nation by far - even though their overhead costs are much less than other clinics that have a licensed physician on site. Women who pay cash for the same procedure are charged $500, half the amount insurance companies must pay.

OR pointed out that this overbilling effectively drives up the cost of health insurance for everyone.

"Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is making a killing on medical abortions," said Newman. "Planned Parenthood is gouging insurance companies twice the price of their cash abortions. That's how they can afford to keep their smaller clinics running.

"And if taxpayers are forced to fund these abortions, there's no telling how much they will charge, because government funding is a blank check."