As more and more health care providers take their services online amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Planned Parenthood announced Tuesday it will be offering telehealth in all 50 states. This comes weeks after the organization, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, filed suit against state officials attempting to suspend abortions during the outbreak.
“Sexual health needs don’t go away, even when our country is in crisis. Planned Parenthood is proud to redouble our efforts to make sure people can still access the care and information they need,” says Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a press release. “Through telehealth, Planned Parenthood is providing the high-quality care and information people need to stay safe and healthy, even as our everyday reality is rapidly changing.”
Telehealth appointments allow patients to connect with a physician either through video or voice calls. While telehealth services vary between health centers, Planned Parenthood says patients can use telehealth to gain access to birth control, sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and/or treatment, gender-affirming hormone therapy, medications like PrEP and PEP to protect against HIV transmission, UTI screening and treatment, and emergency contraception.
Some Planned Parenthood health centers also offer telehealth counseling and follow-up for abortion services, and provide access to a medication abortion. If so, the nurse or doctor you speak to during your telehealth appointment will give you all of the information you need to use the abortion pill at home. Depending on the state you live in, Planned Parenthood says you can usually get a medication abortion up to 11 weeks after the first day of your last period.
To make a telehealth appointment, visit Planned Parenthood’s website and see if your local branch offers telehealth services.
“Telehealth helps patients overcome barriers to timely sexual and reproductive health services, especially right now when in-person visits may not be the best option,” says Meera Shah, MD, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, in a press release. “For patients who do not require an in-person visit, telehealth helps to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and contributes to community social distancing efforts.”
If you have sexual health questions but don’t necessarily need an appointment, you can also use Planned Parenthood’s free and confidential live chat service to connect with a health educator about questions related to pregnancy, birth control, sex, abortion, health and wellness, and sexually transmitted diseases. Health educators are available to chat every day of the week. Teenagers can also use Roo, Planned Parenthood’s sex-ed chatbot that answers questions about sex, relationships, puberty, and more.
“Challenging times require us to innovate, and expand the tools that connect our expert, compassionate providers with patients who need care,” says Johnson. “No matter how you meet Planned Parenthood—in our health centers, online, or on your phone—we’re here with you.”
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