Is Medication Abortion a Safe Option to End an Unintended Pregnancy?


We've been surrounded by news stories about women being penalized for wanting to end their pregnancy by taking pills. Can you tell me more about medication abortion? Is it a safe option for ending an unwanted pregnancy?


Women decide to have an abortion for a variety of reasons. It is important for all women seeking abortion services to have comprehensive information about the different abortion methods in order to make the decision that is best for them. 

A medication abortion, also known as an abortion with pills, involves taking two pills. Your doctor or nurse administers the first pill, mifepristone. Mifepristone blocks progesterone, preventing the pregnancy from continuing. After 24-48 hours, the second pill, misoprostol, is taken at home. Misoprostol induces heavy bleeding and cramping 1 to 4 hours after taking it. This is a normal response with the purpose of emptying the uterus of pregnancy tissue. You may experience various side-effects in response to medication abortion including tiredness, dizziness, cramping, heavy bleeding, diarrhea, and a mild fever. To alleviate the pain, ibuprofen can be taken; however, aspirin should be avoided as it might increase bleeding. Medication abortions are 95-98% successful.

Just like with any medication, there are potential risks associated with a medical abortion. The likelihood of experiencing these risks are very low. The rare but serious complications include unsuccessful abortion, infection, prolonged bleeding, long-lasting fever, and blood clots in your uterus.

Unfortunately, there are many restrictions on medication abortion, which threaten women’s reproductive rights. Although there is a stigma, surrounding a woman’s right to have an abortion, it is important to note that both in-clinic abortion services and FDA-approved abortion pills are safe and effective ways to stop an unintended pregnancy. The National Women’s Health Network believes all barriers to abortion access should be eliminated. We also support the right of women to take FDA-approved abortion medication on their own without the involvement of a clinician. We trust women to make their own decisions regarding their health.

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