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The Abortion Pill | Planned Parenthood Video The Abortion Pill | Planned Parenthood Video

You can schedule a medication abortion appointment online or by calling 1-877-200-PPIL.

The Abortion Pill at a Glance

  • Also known as medication abortion
  • Take medicines to end an early pregnancy
  • Safe and effective

Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL) provides the abortion pill up to 11 weeks at all 17 health centers in the Chicago area and Central Illinois.

  • Patients will take mifepristone (the abortion pill) at PPIL and receive misoprostol to take at home any time within 48 hours. Most people will have a complete abortion within 4–24 hours of using misoprostol but some bleeding and cramping may persist for a few days to weeks.​
  • Patients will be given post-abortion self care, medications and a birth control method. Any complications experienced during or after an abortion procedure must be reported to PPIL immediately. For your convenience, PPIL is available by phone 24 hours a day.
  • A follow-up appointment is required two weeks after taking the abortion pill. The appointment will consist of an ultrasound or blood draw and birth control consultation.

What Is the Abortion Pill?

The abortion pill is a medicine that ends an early pregnancy. In general, it can be used up to 77 days—11 weeks—after the first day of a person's last period. People who need an abortion and are more than 11 weeks pregnant can have an in-clinic abortion.

The name for "the abortion pill" is mifepristone. It was called RU-486 when it was being developed.

How Effective Is the Abortion Pill?

You can feel confident in knowing that medication abortion with the abortion pill is very effective. It works about 97 out of every 100 times. You'll follow up with your health care provider after your abortion so you can be sure that it worked and that you are well.

Some of the medicines used in medication abortion may cause serious birth defects if the pregnancy continues. So, in the unlikely case that it doesn't work, you will need to have an aspiration abortion to end the pregnancy.

What Happens During Medication Abortion?

It's common for patients to be nervous about having a medication abortion—or any other medical procedure. But many of us feel better if we know what to expect. Your health care provider will talk with you and answer your questions. Here's a general idea of how it works and what to expect.

Before taking the abortion pill, you will need to:

  • discuss your options
  • talk about your medical history
  • have laboratory tests
  • read and sign papers
  • have an ultrasound

You will also be given a medication guide, instructions, and other information to take home with you, including a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week telephone number you can call if you have any questions or concerns.


Medication abortion is a process that begins immediately after taking the abortion pill.

There are three steps:

STEP ONE: THE ABORTION PILL

You will also be given an antibiotic to take in clinic before the abortion pill. Your health care provider will give you the abortion pill at the clinic.

The abortion pill works by blocking the hormone progesterone. Without progesterone, the lining of the uterus breaks down, and pregnancy cannot continue.

STEP TWO: MISOPROSTOL

You will take a second medicine—misoprostol. It causes the uterus to empty.

You and your health care provider will plan the timing and place for the second step. You'll take the second medicine up to two days after taking the abortion pill. Your health care provider will give you instructions on how and when to take the second medicine.

The second medicine—misoprostol— will cause you to have cramps and bleed heavily. Some patients may begin bleeding before taking the second medicine. But for most, the bleeding and cramping begin after taking it. It usually lasts a few hours. You may see large blood clots or tissue at the time of the abortion.

More than half of patients abort within four or five hours after taking the second medicine. For others, it takes longer. But most women abort within a few days.

It's normal to have some bleeding or spotting for up to four weeks after the abortion. You may use sanitary pads or tampons. But using pads makes it easier to keep track of your bleeding.

How Does Medication Abortion Feel?

For most people, medication abortion is like an early miscarriage. It is normal for you to have bleeding and cramping. You might also:

  • feel dizzy
  • feel strong cramps
  • feel nauseous or vomit
  • have diarrhea
  • feel temporary abdominal pain
  • have temporary mild fever or chills

Acetaminophen (like Tylenol) or ibuprofen (like Advil) can reduce most of these symptoms. Do not take aspirin.

STEP THREE: FOLLOW-UP

Follow-up is very important to make sure your abortion is complete and that you are well. Your PPIL provider will help determine the best follow-up option for you. This could be: 

  • An additional appointment for an ultrasound or blood test
  • A series of phone call check-ins with a nurse after taking an at-home pregnancy test