What is the Abortion Pill?

An unplanned pregnancy can rip the rug out from under you. At a time like this, it’s crucial to get all the facts to protect your health!
Today, we’re exploring the abortion pill, so you can make an informed decision for your unplanned pregnancy! Keep reading to learn more!

How Does the Abortion Pill Work?

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

How Late 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  
Taking the abortion pill later in pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of complications, such as an incomplete abortion or severe bleeding.4 If you experience these complications, you may need surgery to stop the bleeding and/or complete the procedure. 

Can I Get Abortion Pills Over the Counter?

The FDA now allows pharmacists to dispense the abortion pill. However, you can’t purchase it in the same way you would Tylenol or allergy relief medication. A prescription from an authorized provider is necessary to get the abortion pill from a pharmacy.5

Can I Order the Abortion Pill Online?

The FDA warns against ordering the abortion pill online, as it bypasses safety regulations designed to keep you safe.6 Many online abortion pill providers are located overseas, so the pills they provide may not be FDA-approved. These pills could be fake, expired, or even laced with harmful substances! It’s best to speak to a licensed medical professional first!

What are the Side Effects of the Abortion Pill?

Like any medical procedure, the abortion pill protocol does have some risks and side effects. Common side effects include7:

  • Spotting or bleeding that can last up to a month
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea and digestive pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Abdominal cramping 

Severe abortion pill adverse effects include:

  • Hemorrhaging. It’s normal to bleed for a while after taking the abortion pill. However, heavier bleeding, known as hemorrhaging, does happen.8 

  • 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.9 

  • 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.10

Women with any of the following conditions should not take the abortion pill:11

  • Those who currently have an intrauterine device (IUD) in their uterus.
  • If there is a concern that the pregnancy is outside of the uterus. This is called ectopic pregnancy and can be life-threatening12.
  • If the pregnancy is past 10 weeks.
  • Those with certain medical problems including bleeding disorders, severe liver or kidney disease, known cardiac disease, or an uncontrolled seizure disorder.
  • Those who take certain medications, including blood thinners or steroids.
  • Those who are allergic to the medicines used.

the Facts, Not the Judgment

​​If you have questions about the abortion pill or have started the procedure and do not want to complete it, please give us a call. We can answer your questions about the abortion pill, other types of abortion procedures, how much abortions cost, and the potential side effects of abortion. We are here for you!
We also recommend receiving an ultrasound before an abortion. If your ultrasound determines that you aren’t pregnant, or if it’s not viable, you can avoid the expense and potential risks of an abortion procedure. We partner with pregnancy centers across the country that provide free ultrasounds to women facing unplanned pregnancies! Call now to schedule a free ultrasound near you!

  1. Mayo Clinic. (2022, July 29). Medical abortion. Top-ranked Hospital in the Nation – Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/medical-abortion/about/pac-20394687
  2. Cytotec. PDR. (n.d.). https://www.pdr.net/drug-summary/?drugLabelId=1044  Korlym. PDR. (n.d.). https://www.pdr.net/drug-summary/?drugLabelId=Korlym-mifepristone-2928#11  
  3. FDA. (2023, September 1). Questions and Answers on Mifeprex. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/questions-and-answers-mifeprex  
  4. Rath, S., Mishra, S., Tripathy, R., Dash, S., & Panda, B. (2021, November 18). Analysis of Complications and Management After Self-Administration of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Pills. U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8684582/  
  5. Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. (2023, March 23). Mifeprex (Mifepristone). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/mifeprex-mifepristone-information
  6. Food and Drug Administration. (2023, March 23). Mifeprex (mifepristone) information-buying drugs on the Internet. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/information-about-mifepristone-medical-termination-pregnancy-through-ten-weeks-gestation 
  7. Mayo Clinic. (2022, July 29). Medical abortion. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/medical-abortion/about/pac-20394687 
  8. Food & Drug Administration. (2023). Mifeprex label prescribing information. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2023/020687Orig1s025Lbl.pdf 
  9. Ibid 
  10. Ibid 
  11. Ibid 
  12. Ectopic pregnancy. Mayo Clinic. (2022, March 12). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ectopic-pregnancy/symptoms-causes/syc-20372088 

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.