Nonsurgical Abortion Using Medication

What is nonsurgical abortion using medication (also known as the abortion pill)?
A nonsurgical abortion using medication is a non-surgical method of early pregnancy termination using the drug Mifepristone, which blocks progesterone in the woman’s body. Progesterone is the hormone that sustains a pregnancy. Without progesterone, the lining of the uterus breaks down, and pregnancy cannot continue. A nonsurgical abortion using medication is administered early in the pregnancy, and only up to nine weeks after the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period. Mifepristone has been in use in the United States since 2000.

Nonsurgical abortion using medication is a non-invasive procedure and about 45% of the women terminating a pregnancy in WI will choose this option. The vast majority of women who choose this option are satisfied with their decision.

What drugs are administered for a non-surgical abortion using medication?
Two different drugs are typically used during a nonsurgical medication abortion.

Mifepristone to block the hormone progesterone as described above. Protocol requires administration of an oral antibiotic with the mifepristone. Mifepristone can only be administered by a physician. It cannot be obtained in a pharmacy from a pharmacist.

The second drug often used in medication abortion is Misoprostol, which softens and opens the cervix. This drug is also sometimes used in a surgical abortion procedure. Misoprostol will cause bleeding and some cramping. Current best practice uses the two medications together to terminate a pregnancy prior to 9 weeks.

In Wisconsin, current law requires that any abortion be performed by a physician, this includes medication abortion.

Why do women choose nonsurgical abortion using medication?
Many women choose nonsurgical abortion using medication because it is a safe and effective way to terminate a very early pregnancy. Some women feel it is a more private option because they are able to go through the process at home. Other women prefer nonsurgical abortion using medication because it is less invasive than a surgical abortion. Some women choose it because they feel more in control. Regardless, the vast majority of women who choose nonsurgical abortion using medication are very satisfied with the decision.

What is emergency contraception (EC, Plan B, Next Choice, the morning after pill)?
Emergency contraception is basic birth control. It is a high dose of birth control pills that prevent pregnancy up to 120 hours after unprotected sex. The sooner a woman takes EC, the more effective it is in preventing an unintended pregnancy. Emergency contraception is a safe, effective way to reduce unintended pregnancies.

Emergency contraception does not terminate or harm an existing pregnancy. It prevents a pregnancy from occurring. Emergency contraception works before a pregnancy is established, not afterward.

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