Abortion Pill

Medication Abortion

The Abortion Pill (also called Mifeprex, Mifepristone, or RU-486) is the most common form of medication abortion in the United States.  The Abortion Pill may cause serious side effects, including failure to terminate the pregnancy.  Because of the risk of serious complications, Mifeprex is only available through a restricted program which requires the abortion provider to warn patients about the risks and what to do if complications occur.   The FDA has approved its use in women up to 70 days (10 weeks) after their last menstrual period (LMP).

This abortion procedure goes by many names, including medication abortion, RU-486, and Mifeprex/mifepristone. This drug is only approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in women up to the 49th day after her last menstrual period;[1] but it’s commonly used off-label past 49 days—even though this is against FDA guidelines.

If a doctor recommends the abortion pill even though you’re more than 49 days (seven weeks) pregnant, it might be best to look for a medical professional who cares about your health and well-being enough to abide by FDA regulations.

Three Step Process

Medication abortion requires multiple steps.  The first step is visiting an abortion provider for an assessment and the first dose of medication.  24 to 48 hours later, the patient takes the second dose of medication at a convenient location, usually at home.  After this dose, cramping will begin to expel the embryo.  The final step is for the patient to follow up with the abortion provider to check if the abortion was complete and for complications. 

  • On the first visit, the woman is given pills to cause the death of the embryo (human being in early stages of development).

  • Two days later, if the embryo has not been expelled from her body, the woman is given a second drug (misoprostol).
  • One to two weeks later, the woman returns for an evaluation to determine if the procedure has been successfully completed.

Failures and Complications

The Abortion Pill regimen doesn’t always cause an abortion.  The failure rate increases with advancing gestational age and a surgical procedure may be required to complete a failed medical abortion.  In addition, other serious side effects are possible.  If you are considering a medication abortion, make sure you have all the information about this procedure as well as the surgical options.  Call the Center to make an appointment for a free, confidential, professional abortion information consultation, pregnancy test, and viability ultrasound.

Note: The abortion pill won’t work in the case of an ectopic pregnancy.[2] This is a potentially life-threatening condition in which the embryo implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. If an ectopic pregnancy is not diagnosed early, the tube may burst, causing internal bleeding and—in some cases—death.

[1]"Medication Guide: Mifeprex," The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, last modified April 22, 2009

[2]“Mifeprex: Prescribing Information,” Danco Laboratories, last modified April 22, 2009

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