Is At-Home Abortion Safe?

If you’re facing an unplanned pregnancy, you’ve likely heard the term “at-home abortion”. You may be wondering how it works, what your options are, and if it’s the right choice for you. 

It’s crucial to get all the facts, so you can make a fully informed decision. In this blog, we’ll explore at-home abortions—including how they work and if they’re safe, legal, and right for you. Keep reading to learn more. 

How Does an At-Home Abortion Work? 

An at-home abortion is exactly what it sounds like—an abortion done at home. Some women attempt at-home abortions by ingesting a mixture of herbs (more on that in a moment). Others take the abortion pill (also known as medication abortion). 

The abortion pill has many names, including 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. 

Misoprostol is taken 24-48 hours later at home. This medication causes the uterus to cramp and bleed, which expels the fetus and ends the pregnancy.2

Are At-Home Abortions Legal?

The abortion pill is FDA-approved for use up to 10 weeks of pregnancy (or 70 days since the first day of your last menstrual period.3 However, abortion laws vary from state to state and depending on where you live, you may not be legally allowed to take the abortion pill at all.

Before an at-home abortion, it is critical that you know what is happening inside your body–your health and safety depend upon it. Without an ultrasound to confirm your pregnancy, you won’t know if you are further along than you realize, or if you have a nonviable pregnancy, which will end naturally on its own. Or, you could have a pregnancy outside the uterus, known as an ectopic, which if not diagnosed early can be life-threatening (the abortion pills won’t end an ectopic pregnancy). Contact a local pregnancy center and ask about receiving a free ultrasound to determine how far along you are. If your ultrasound determines that you’re too far along for the abortion pill, we will help you explore all of your pregnancy options, so you can make the most informed decision for your health and future.

Are At-Home Abortions Safe?

At-home abortions are not without risk. After taking the abortion pill, you could experience severe side effects, such as: 

  • Hemorrhaging. It’s normal to bleed for a while after taking the abortion pill. However, heavier bleeding, known as hemorrhaging, does happen.4
  • 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.5
  • 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.6

Using herbs to induce an abortion can be extremely harmful.7 You may have seen videos on social media talking about how easy and convenient they are. However, there isn’t enough scientific evidence available to suggest that they actually work and medical professionals have found that they can cause organ system failure and even death.8

Considering At-Home Abortion? Get the Facts at The Pregnancy Decision Line.

We get it—an unplanned pregnancy can leave you feeling desperate. At Pregnancy Decision Line, it’s our mission to help you protect your health and make a safe, informed decision. We can connect you with a local pregnancy center that offers free pregnancy services and a nonjudgmental space to explore your options and process your emotions.

  1. Mayo Clinic. (2022, July 29). Medical Abortion.
  2. Cytotec. PDR. (n.d.).  Korlym. PDR. (n.d.).  
  3. FDA. (2023, September 1). Questions and Answers on Mifeprex. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from  
  4. Food & Drug Administration. (2023). Mifeprex label prescribing information. 
  5. Ibid 
  6. Ibid 
  7. Ciganda, C., & Laborde, A. (2003). Herbal infusions used for induced abortion. U.S. National Library of Medicine. 
  8. Ibid. 

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.