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  • Writer's pictureAmy, RDMS

What exactly is the abortion pill?

Updated: Feb 22, 2022

What is the abortion pill?

Medical abortion, generally called "the abortion pill," involves two types of abortion pills. These pills are not the same as the "morning-after pill" and will terminate a pregnancy. The first pill taken is mifepristone (also known as Mifeprex), and the second is misoprostol (also known as Cytotec).

How does the abortion pill work?

During the first visit, you swallow the first pill (mifepristone), which cuts off the supply of blood and nutrients to the developing embryo over the next few days. Up to two days later, you take the second pill (misoprostol), which causes cramping and expels the embryo. You are not given anesthesia for a medical abortion. However, the doctor may provide medications to manage pain during and after the medical abortion. The doctor may also prescribe antibiotics to help prevent infection.

After a medical abortion, you must follow up with the provider to make sure you are healing and check for complications. The abortion provider will decide if the follow-up should include a phone call, a blood test, an office visit, or an ultrasound.

If the doctor thinks that the abortion failed or was not complete, you will need to decide if you will take more pills to induce abortion, undergo a surgical abortion, or continue your pregnancy.

Surgical abortions are done by opening the cervix and passing instruments into the uterus to suction, grasp, pull, and scrape the developing baby and placenta out. The size of the baby determines the exact procedure.

How much does the abortion pill cost?

Abortion pills shouldn't be bought online or on the black market. The cost of the abortion pill depends on the abortion provider, the location, and if any additional testing or follow-ups are required. Abortion procedures can cost up to $1,500 in Texas; however, the cost can fluctuate depending on several factors.

Who is eligible for the abortion pill?

Women must be less than ten weeks into their pregnancy (or 70 days since their last menstrual period) to take the abortion pill. Women further than ten weeks may choose a surgical abortion. Women who have pre-existing conditions may be ineligible to take the abortion pill. Women ineligible include:

  • women who are not willing to have an aspiration (surgical abortion) if the medication is ineffective.

  • women with an ectopic pregnancy or mass on their ovaries

  • women on long-term corticosteroids

  • women with certain genetic diseases

  • women who are not able to understand the procedure or how to follow the directions

  • women who will not have access to emergency medical treatment and facilities

  • women who have a molar pregnancy, in which the placenta develops abnormally

  • women who have heart, kidney, or liver problems

  • women with severe adrenal gland problems

  • women who currently have an IUD

  • women with bleeding disorders, or those who are taking anti-clotting medications

What are the risks and complications of a medical abortion?

Women who undergo a medical abortion experience bleeding and cramping that can last for up to two weeks after the procedure, including passing blood clots. Other common side effects include:

  • nausea and vomiting

  • diarrhea

  • feeling dizzy or having a headache

  • hot flashes

Potential risks and complications of a medical abortion include:

  • an incomplete or failed abortion, where the fetus is viable or remains in the womb (this can cause serious infections)

  • an undetected ectopic pregnancy, which can be dangerous and is a medical emergency

  • blood clots remaining in the uterus

  • heavy bleeding

Emergency symptoms of serious complications include:

  • severe pain

  • fever

  • excessive bleeding (defined as going through two or more pads within an hour)

  • strong-smelling vaginal discharge

  • passing clots for two or more hours that are larger than the size of a lemon

Additional safety concerns to be aware of:

  • The abortion pill can mask symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy, which can be very dangerous.

  • Some abortion providers recommend taking the misoprostol pill vaginally rather than orally. This method is hazardous, as introducing misoprostol directly into the reproductive tract has been associated with deadly infections.

  • If a medical abortion is used more than 70 days after the last menstrual period, the likelihood of an incomplete abortion increases, as does the risk of adverse health effects.

  • Ordering the abortion pill online is a dangerous option because a woman could end up bypassing specific safety protocols. It could also be hazardous because there's no way a woman can be sure of what she is getting.

  • Doctors typically recommend a follow-up visit for a woman undergoing a medical abortion because of health risks and the possibility that, in the case of an incomplete abortion, the fetus may remain in the woman's uterus, requiring urgent surgery.

  • The doctor should perform an Rh antibody screening before and after an abortion procedure. The screening detects antibodies to Rh-positive blood. If you're Rh positive, no action is needed. If you're Rh-negative and your baby is Rh-positive, there's a potential for your body to produce antibodies that could be harmful during another pregnancy.

Medical abortions are not 100% effective. Failed medical abortions require women to undergo surgical abortions and can result in infections.

After the abortion, you may experience a range of emotions, including relief, sadness, guilt, or all three. However, information is lacking about the long-term psychological impact of medical abortion on women.

What if I've already taken the abortion pill, but I've changed my mind?

If you have taken the abortion pill and changed your mind, it may not be too late. Do not take the second pill if you haven't already. Whatever you decide, medical attention is your next step. Call the Abortion Pill Reversal 24/7 hotline right now: 877.558-0333. To reverse the abortion, the Pregnancy Help Center will administer the reversal medication at no charge. Reversing the abortion cannot be guaranteed, but the chances of success are highest the sooner you take the reversal medication. Studies show a success rate of 64%-68% if you take the medication within the first 72 hours.

What do I do now?

It would be best if you talked with a medical professional about any risks you might face. It is your right to make a knowledgeable decision that is best for you. Here are some things you should talk to a medical professional about:

  • Find out for sure if you are pregnant and how long you have been pregnant.

  • Ask what services are available to you.

  • Discuss if you need to schedule an ultrasound to confirm viability.

  • Be sure to disclose medical histories such as previous miscarriages or abortions.

  • Ask about the risks associated with any medical procedures.

  • Inform the medical professional about any medications or supplements you are taking.

You need to know as much as you can about your options to make an informed decision. Each option has possible risks and benefits. While we do not perform or refer for abortions, we offer counseling services available to help you fully understand your options and make your decision. Our promise to you:

  • Our help is available at no cost.

  • We will keep all information confidential.

  • You can remain anonymous.

Click the button below to request information from our qualified professionals.


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