Abortion by Medication (Abortion Pill)

Last Updated: 8/26/2020

How does the abortion pill work?

You'll start by taking a pill called mifepristone. A pregnancy needs a hormone called progesterone to grow normally. Mifepristone blocks your body's own progesterone which stops the pregnancy from growing.

Then you will take a second medicine, misoprostol. You will take it right away or up to 48 hours later. This medicine will cause cramping and bleeding as it emptys your uterus. It's very similar to having a very, very heavy period. If you don't have any bleeding at all after taking the medication within 24 hours then you'll need to consult a doctor.

How do I get the abortion pills?

In order to get the pills required to have an abortion, you'll have to talk to a doctor or nurse at a health center. When, and where, you take the pills will depend on state laws and the health center's policies. A doctor will give you detailed directions about wehre, when, and how to take the medicine. You might also get some antibiotics to help prevent infections.

When can I take an abortion pill?

You usually can get the medication up to about 77 days (11 weeks) after the first day of your last period. If it has been 78 days or more since that date you'll have to have an in-clinic abortion to end your pregnancy.

How effective is the abortion pill?

The abortion pill is very effective. The effectiveness depends on how far along you are in yoru pregnancy when you take the medicine. The further along you are the less effective it gets.

If you are 8 weeks pregnant or less, it works 94-98% of the time.

If you are between 8 and 9 weeks pregnant, it works 94-96% of the time.

If you are 9 to 10 weeks pregnant, it works 91-93% of the time. In some cases patients are given an extra dose when they are closer to 11 weeks which increases the chance of success to 98-100%.

If you are 10 to 11 weeks pregnant, it works around 87% of the time. Many patients are given a second dose of medicine to ensure the 98-100% success rate.

Pros and Cons of the Abortion Pill

Pros of a medical abortion:

  • Medical abortions can occur as soon as a woman finds out she is pregnant.
  • There is no anesthesia required.
  • It's less invasive than a surgical abortion.
  • It feels more "natural", like a miscarriage.
  • Less risk that surgical abortion.
  • Abortion pills often cost much less.

Cons of a medical abortion:

  • They are not 100% effective, unlike surgical abortion.
  • Bleeding and cramping may last longer than intended.
  • Medical abortions may require multiple visits until it takes.
  • They cannot end a tubal or ectopic pregnancy.

What's On This Page:
  • How does the pill work?
  • How to get abortion pills
  • When to take
  • Effectiveness of Abortion Pills
  • Pros of Abortion Pills
  • Cons of Abortion Pills
  • Useful Links


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