The Abortion Pill
What is the abortion pill?
Medication abortion — also called the abortion pill — is a safe and effective way to end an early pregnancy.
How does the abortion pill work?
“Abortion pill” is the common name for using two different medicines to end a pregnancy: mifepristone and misoprostol.
First, you take a pill called mifepristone. Pregnancy needs a hormone called progesterone to grow normally. Mifepristone blocks your body’s own progesterone, stopping the pregnancy from growing.
Then you take the second medicine, misoprostol, either right away or up to 48 hours later. This medicine causes cramping and bleeding to empty your uterus. It’s kind of like having a really heavy, crampy period, and the process is very similar to an early miscarriage. If you don’t have any bleeding within 24 hours after taking the second medicine, call your nurse or doctor.
Your doctor or nurse will give you both medicines at the health center. When and where you’ll take them depends on state laws and your health center's policies. Your doctor or nurse will give you detailed directions about where, when, and how to take the medicines. You may also get some antibiotics to prevent infection.
How effective is the abortion pill?
The abortion pill is very effective. The effectiveness depends on how far along you are in your pregnancy when you take the medicine.
- For people who are 8 weeks pregnant or less, it works about 94-98 out of 100 times.
- For people who are 8-9 weeks pregnant, it works about 94-96 out of 100 times.
- For people who are 9-10 weeks pregnant, it works about 91-93 out of 100 times. If you're given an extra dose of medicine, it works about 99 out of 100 times.
- For people who are 10-11 weeks pregnant, it works about 87 out of 100 times. If you're given an extra dose of medicine, it works about 98 out of 100 times.
The abortion pill usually works, but if it doesn’t, you can take more medicine or have an in-clinic abortion to complete the abortion.
When can I take the abortion pill?
Depending on where you live, you may be able to get a medication abortion up to 77 days (11 weeks) after the first day of your last period. If it has been 78 days or more since the first day of your last period, you can have an in-clinic abortion to end your pregnancy.
Why do people choose the abortion pill?
Which kind of abortion you choose all depends on your personal preference and situation. With medication abortion, some people like that you don’t need to have a procedure in a doctor’s office. You can have your medication abortion at home or in another comfortable place that you choose. You get to decide who you want to be with during your abortion, or you can go it alone. Because medication abortion is similar to a miscarriage, many people feel like it’s more “natural” and less invasive.
Your doctor, nurse, or health center staff can help you decide which kind of abortion is best for you.