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OPINION: Telehealth Offers Increased Access to Reproductive Healthcare, as Abortion Bans Continue

By Julia Ross-McGuire | September 4, 2023

Central Ohio Student Led Rally for Reproductive Rights.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade has made it difficult for many to access reproductive healthcare, but a rising prevalence of telehealth services offers an alternative.

Hey Jane is a telehealth provider which offers “vaginal infections treatment including UTIs, yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis and herpes, both oral (HSV1) and genital (HSV2), birth control, and emergency contraception to ensure fast, discreet, and convenient support for these common—yet stigmatized—health care needs during this pivotal time for reproductive health,” according to a press release from the company.

Hey Jane’s online system offers discretion while also helping to take the burden off of clinics inundated with patients.

Alyssa Wagner, a board-certified women’s health nurse practitioner specializing in reproductive and sexual health care and Hey Jane’s Medical Director stated in a press release “We believe the best person to make decisions about their body is the patient themself. Our goal is to empower our patients with the knowledge and tools to prioritize their reproductive and sexual health and give them the support and prescriptions they need to do just that.”

This is especially important when one considers the states Hey Jane operates in and the borders they share with more restrictive states. Although New York, along with many of the other states Hey Jane operates in, have taken steps to codify abortion rights, meaning citizens in the given state will have their abortion rights protected under the state constitution, many of their neighbors have not been afforded the same protections.

Roe v. Wade was a 1973 Supreme Court Case that protected the right to privacy. The Center for Reproductive Rights states that “Roe v. Wade recognized that the decision whether to continue or end a pregnancy belongs to the individual, not the government.” Overturning Roe v. Wade has suggested to many an opening to overturn other cases regarding privacy. The Center for Strategic & International Studies states that those cases “include Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) that guaranteed a right to use contraceptives, Loving v. Virginia (1968) that invalidated state bans on interracial marriage, Lawrence v. Texas (2003) that banned state “sodomy” laws, and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) that recognized a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.”

Roe v. Wade created a precedent that has ensured individuals the ability to lead the life they choose, without government interference. At its core, overturning Roe v. Wade removed an individuals’ right to privacy and set the scene for more freedoms to be removed under an extremely conservative Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has shown that they don’t represent the American people, as Roe v. Wade is overwhelmingly supported by the US population.

While it is important to consider the impact overturning Roe v. Wade has on its own, we must continue to pay attention to the Supreme Court’s upcoming decisions.

Hey Jane is presently available in 11 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Washington.

All of these states border a state with some level of restrictive bans. This helps residents within the states with Hey Jane access online care while out-of-state individuals visit in-person clinics.

In doing so, Hey Jane not only helps states with abortion access but also those with abortion bans. However, there is some fear over the ability of individuals to travel across state borders to access reproductive healthcare.

States such as Idaho have created abortion travel bans, which while hard to enforce still present a danger to individuals looking to travel to have an abortion.

Abortion bans paint a terrifying reality, especially in states where even minors cannot receive abortions. A recent story out of Mississippi resulted in a 13 year old carrying her pregnancy to term after being raped.

These bans do not improve the well-being of anyone. We should never see a child be forced to give birth to a child. It is immoral and unjust.

Additionally, teen pregnancies worsen life outcomes for many individuals, with the CDC stating that “Pregnancy and birth are significant contributors to high school dropout rates among girls. Only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by 22 years of age, whereas approximately 90% of women who do not give birth during adolescence graduate from high school.”

The problems don’t end there, however. Teen pregnancies are often part of a vicious cycle in which the children of teen moms also struggle and “are more likely to have lower school achievement and to drop out of high school, have more health problems, be incarcerated at some time during adolescence, give birth as a teenager, and face unemployment as a young adult.” according to the CDC.

Recent improvements in healthcare access and reproductive education have seen a decline in teen pregnancy over the last several decades but abortion bans will inevitably see these rates rise again, especially in minority and low-income communities.

Abortion bans hurt everyone, but they also hurt our future. Removing education opportunities from young individuals through abortion bans limits the next generation of leaders and innovators.

In the wake of growing conservatism across the nation, we must work to find solutions to protect vulnerable groups.

Telehealth services like Hey Jane offer some hope, but the impact of the ban will continue within restrictive states.

For more information about Hey Jane and their services check out their website.

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