Policy Facts: Abortion with Pills (Medication Abortion)

Mifepristone and Misoprostol

Mifepristone (brand name Mifeprex®) is taken first. Misoprostol (brand name Cytotec) is taken second, between 24-48 hours after mifepristone is taken. Mifepristone used in combination with misoprostol is up to 99% effective, and serious complications are rare.

Learn More:

Get additonal info about medication abortion alternative names, what to expect, and more - view our health information fact sheet or read our position on self-managed abortion with pills.

Download our 2019 print fact sheet with health and policy information
2019 Medication Abortion Fact Sheet

Additional Information:

The National Women’s Health Network (NWHN) was a key player in the fight for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of mifepristone.

Although the drug's safety and efficacy had been proven through extensive research, anti-abortion forces fought FDA approval with every means available to them. They attempted to pass legislation to financially block the FDA from approving the drug, resisted the appointment of FDA commissioners who supported medication abortion, and tried to undermine the credibility of the research proving medication abortion was both safe and effective. Although opponents claimed to be interested in women’s safety, their claims were scientifically false and rooted in abortion politics, not medicine.

Fighting for consumer safety


The NWHN has a proud history of opposing unsafe drugs and devices even when we agree with their purpose—in fact, it was our founding fight! So when we testified before the FDA in support of mifepristone's approval, we not only brought women’s voices to the discussion on behalf of greater autonomy and better choices, we also brought decades of credibility fighting for consumer safety. Due to the hard work of the NWHN and many other organizations, the FDA finally approved mifepristone in 2000.

More Work Ahead

In addition, the NWHN is monitoring state efforts to restrict access to medical abortion. These efforts include requiring clinicians to be physically present during a procedure and/or criminalizing individuals who access medication abortion on their own. We are working with our allies to improve awareness of this safe procedure and to ensure access is not unduly hindered by ideological belief.

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