Is At-Home Abortion Safe?

If you’re facing an unplanned pregnancy, you may have turned to the internet for a solution. All of the information can feel overwhelming. But, as with any medication or procedure, there are many things to consider before you take abortion pills. So, keep reading to learn more!

How Does the Abortion Pill Work? 

With the abortion pill, a woman intentionally takes medication to terminate her pregnancy. Abortion pills may also be called RU-486, Medication Abortion, Medical Abortion, Chemical Abortion, Mifepristone, Mifeprex®, and Plan C. Although it’s referred to as a pill (singular), the abortion pill consists of two different drugs: mifepristone and misoprostol.

Mifepristone is taken first. This medication cuts the supply of the hormone progesterone to the embryo, which is needed to maintain the pregnancy.1 Without a steady supply of progesterone, the embryo stops growing and eventually dies over the next several days. 

The second medication, misoprostol, is taken 24-48 hours later and causes the uterus to cramp and expel the pregnancy.2

How Far Along Can You Take the Abortion Pill? 

The FDA approved the use of the abortion pill up to 10 weeks (or 70 days) from your last menstrual period.3 Gestational age can be estimated based on a woman’s last menstrual period, but an ultrasound is a far more reliable way to determine the gestational age and to know for sure that the pregnancy is in the proper location. 

Can Abortion Pills be Mailed? 

In states where telemedicine abortion is legal and available, an appointment with an abortion provider is necessary before they will prescribe abortion pills in the mail through a verified pharmacy.4 Both the abortion provider and pharmacy must be certified with the abortion pill manufacturers and follow the FDA-approved protocol. 

In states where abortion is not legal, the law typically prohibits residents from receiving abortion pills in the mail. Receiving abortion pills from non-FDA approved overseas online pharmacies is illegal.5

What To Know Before Taking the Abortion Pill

Whether you get the abortion pill through telemedicine in the U.S. or elsewhere, it’s important to know what is going on inside your own body, for your own safety. The following are critical questions to ask before you take the abortion pill. Know the answers because your health depends on it.

  • How far along am I? Menstrual cycles can be off and may not accurately date your pregnancy. An ultrasound is the most reliable way to find out the gestational age which is what determines the available abortion procedures.
  • Is my pregnancy in the correct location? A small number of pregnancies develop outside the uterus (called ectopic) and can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early. Once again, an ultrasound is critical and can tell if the pregnancy is inside the uterus.
  • Is my pregnancy viable? Approximately 15% of known pregnancies end in a miscarriage.6 This is another reason why getting an ultrasound is an important step before taking medications or seeking other interventions for a pregnancy that is destined to end on its own.

PDL can connect you with a local pregnancy center that provides free ultrasounds. Contact us to get started.

Call 866-406-9327 and get help now.

What are the Risks of an At-Home Abortion? 

As with any medication or procedure, women should be aware of all of the risks associated with the abortion pill, including:

  • Hemorrhaging. It’s normal to bleed for a while after taking the abortion pill. However, heavier bleeding, known as hemorrhaging, does happen.7
  • Incomplete abortion. Incomplete abortions occur when some pregnancy tissue remains in the uterus after misoprostol has been taken. Emergency surgery may be needed to remove the remaining tissue and prevent infection.8
  • Infection. Women who experience sustained fever, severe lower abdominal pain, and fainting should seek medical attention. Also, women who “feel ill,” are weak, have nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, with/without fever and abdominal pain, for more than 24 hours after taking misoprostol may have a serious infection and should seek medical care right away.9
  • Emotional trauma. Preliminary reports indicate that the abortion pill can be a traumatic experience that causes emotional distress and feelings of isolation.10

For these reasons, women need to have access to emergency services before, during, and after an abortion. So, women should be under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.

Get the Facts on the Abortion Pill at PDL

Sorting through all of your options can feel overwhelming. But you aren’t alone! Contact Pregnancy Decision Line to speak with our qualified and compassionate staff. We provide a confidential space for you to ask questions and get the facts, so you can make a fully informed decision.

  1. Mayo Clinic. (2022, July 29). Medical abortion. Top-ranked Hospital in the Nation – Mayo Clinic.
  2. Cytotec. PDR. (n.d.). Korlym. PDR. (n.d.).  
  3. FDA. (2023, September). Questions and Answers on Mifepristone for Medical Termination of Pregnancy Through Ten Weeks Gestation.
  4. FDA. (2023, January). Questions and Answers on Mifepristone for Medical Termination of Pregnancy Through Ten Weeks Gestation.
  5. Food & Drug Administration. (2023, September 1). Questions and Answers on Mifeprex: Has FDA ever taken action regarding the sale of mifepristone online? Retrieved from 
  6. Cleveland Clinic. (2022). Miscarriage.
  7. Food & Drug Administration. (2023). Mifeprex label prescribing information. 
  8. Ibid
  9. Ibid
  10. Smith Dallabrida, E. (2022, October). Study Shows Long-Term Negative Impact of Medication Abortion. Support After Abortion.

Call 866-406-9327 and get help now.

All of our services are 100% free and confidential. We exist to provide accurate medical information and support to women and men facing an unplanned pregnancy. Our pregnancy centers do not offer or refer for pregnancy terminations or birth control. Information is provided as an educational service and should not be relied on as a substitute for professional and/or medical advice.