The Abortion Pill (Chemical/Medical Abortion)

The Abortion Pill is a chemical/medical abortion used for women who are within 10 weeks of their last menstrual period. A chemical abortion involves a series of pills to terminate a pregnancy and does not require surgery or anesthesia. The pills (mifepristone and misoprostol) work together to terminate and expel a pregnancy from a woman’s body. The first pill, mifepristone, is given at a doctor’s office or clinic and blocks a woman’s progesterone, which is the hormone a woman’s body needs to develop a fetus. The second pill, misoprostol, is taken approximately one to two days later and will generate labor. Misoprostol can cause severe cramping and heavy bleeding as the body expels the contents of the uterus. The abortion pill can be taken up to 70 days after the first day of a woman’s last period. If it has been longer than 70 days, a surgical abortion will be needed.

Potential risks of a chemical abortion include:

  • Incomplete abortion, which may need to be followed with a surgical abortion
  • An ongoing pregnancy if the procedure doesn’t work
  • Heavy and prolonged bleeding
  • Infection
  • Fever
  • Digestive system discomfort

Chemical abortion has not been shown to affect future pregnancies unless complications develop.

A chemical abortion is not an option in certain situations, including:

  • If it has been more than 70 days since a woman’s last period
  • You have certain medical conditions, including certain heart or blood vessel diseases; severe liver, kidney or lung disease; an uncontrolled seizure disorder; or certain other medical conditions
  • You are on a blood thinner or certain steroid medications
  • You have an intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Have a suspected pregnancy outside of the uterus (ectopic pregnancy)
  • You may have an allergy to the abortion medications used

Having a chemical abortion is a major decision. If you’re considering this procedure, make sure you understand what it entails, the possible side effects and risks, complications and alternatives. The client advocates at Women’s Help Center will give you the guidance and support you to need to make an informed decision about your pregnancy.