New research confirms: Telemedicine for abortion with pills is just as safe as in-person care


Effectiveness and safety of medication abortion via telemedicine versus in-person: A cohort of pregnant people in Colombia

Published in Contraception

Conducted by Ipas and ProFamilia Colombia, this study followed 23,362 people who had abortions with pills over one year—a large sample size that is rare in similar research.

Main takeaway

Around the world, people struggle to obtain safe abortions, particularly underserved populations, and finding new ways to make abortion accessible remains a challenge.

This large-scale study gives undeniable evidence that abortion with pills provided through telemedicine is just as effective and safe as when provided in person.

“At Ipas, we champion women’s autonomy in choosing safe reproductive health options. This study proves that telemedicine is not only a safe and effective way to access abortion, it also increases access by expanding provider availability and reaching more people from disadvantaged socioeconomic and educational backgrounds.”

— Dr. Guillermo Ortiz, co-lead researcher and Ipas senior medical advisor 

Why it matters

Telemedicine for abortion expands access for people seeking abortion services, particularly in underserved areas. As of 2022, the World Health Organization recommends telemedicine as an alternative to in-person visits for delivering medication abortion services.

This study demonstrates that telemedicine can provide medication abortion services safely and effectively, with no significant differences in success rates or complications compared to in-person care. This research supports the potential for telemedicine to break barriers to abortion care, especially for people with disadvantaged socioeconomic and educational backgrounds.

This study is a significant step forward in proving that telemedicine is a viable and safe option for abortion with pills. It provides compelling, large-scale evidence for advocacy efforts, with an approach that can be replicated in other countries across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Key findings

  • People using telemedicine were mostly from urban areas, had lower incomes, and were often single.
  • In-person care users most often had higher education levels and private insurance.
  • Both telemedicine and in-person care had over 93% success rates for abortions up to 12 weeks.
  • For pregnancies up to nine weeks, the effectiveness was around 95%, similar to other studies.
  • The complication rate was less than 1%, with zero deaths reported.
  • The study also confirmed that women can accurately determine how far along their pregnancy is without an ultrasound.