Medication Abortions: What You Need to Know • The Pregnancy Network

Medication Abortions: What You Need to Know

Medication abortions (also referred to as the abortion pill or RU-486) account for more than one-third of all abortions, according to the latest data. The “draw” of this option is that it allows a woman to avoid a surgical abortion procedure. Instead, she may choose to have her abortion at home. In fact, a quick Google search will result in many articles explaining why medication abortions are simple, easy, and a quick fix. Sounds like a great option, right?

The reality is that once you become pregnant, there is no “easy” decision in front of you. You owe it to yourself to be fully-informed about each of your options. We’re here to help.

Let’s take a look at 5 important things to know about medication abortions before you make a decision:

5 Things You Should Know About Medication Abortions

1. The Abortion Pill is actually two separate medications: mifepristone and misoprostol. The first pill, mifepristone, works by blocking the hormone progesterone. This results in the lining of the uterus thinning and cutting of nutrients to the embryo. Once the unborn child’s life has ended, the second pill, misoprostol, induces uterine contractions in order to expel the pregnancy. Typically, the first pill is administered by a physician, and the second is taken at home.

You can watch the video below for a more in-depth explanation of the process as described by a doctor and former abortionist. 

2. A medication abortion has been approved for use by the FDA for up to 10 weeks of pregnancy (counting from the first day of the last menstrual period). As a reference, at a gestational age of 10 weeks, the child has developed fingers and toes; all organ systems are in place and need only to continue growing; baby has a well-defined profile with eyes, ears, nose, and mouth; and connections are forming in the brain. 

If you take mifepristone and misoprostol without first receiving an ultrasound, there is also the possibility of an undetected ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy takes place when a pregnancy implants outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. This type of pregnancy can be life-threatening and needs immediate medical attention. It’s important to first receive an ultrasound in order to rule out an ectopic pregnancy and confirm the gestational age so you are fully-informed prior to a decision. Click here to make an appointment for a free ultrasound today.

3. Potential risks and side effects include: fever, infection, heavy bleeding, an incomplete or failed abortion, headache, vomiting, nausea, chills, and diarhhea, according to the Mayo Clinic. Planned Parenthood’s website advises frequent uterine massages to deal with cramps and heavy bleeding, and says to only call if blood clots are “larger than a lemon” (see screenshots below). However, Kelly Flournoy, Charge Nurse at TPN’s Greensboro location, cautions against this guidance. 

“Near lemon-sized clots are not normal,” she says. “Patients should not have to perform deep uterine tissue massages on themselves to manage pain or bleeding.” Call your doctor right away if you experience these symptoms. 

4. “Do it yourself” abortions are not a good idea. You may see online advertisements that claim you can get abortion pills without a prescription or without talking to a doctor. Websites may offer cheaper prices or even encourage lying in order to gain access to these medications under false pretenses. This may seem like an easier option, but is not in the best interest of your health and carries with it greater risks.

If you are considering abortion, it’s important to confirm your pregnancy, find out the gestational age, and to confirm viability (i.e. make sure the pregnancy is located inside the uterus). You can do all three of these things by receiving a free limited ultrasound here at The Pregnancy Network. 

5. It’s possible to reverse the effects of the abortion pill. If you move forward with a medication abortion but then change your mind, you still have options. It is possible to reverse the induced abortion if action is taken within 72 hours after ingesting the first pill (mifepristone). Abortion pill reversal can reverse the effects of mifepristone by providiing an influx of the hormone progesterone. This process has had success in saving as many as 68% of pregnancies. To receive help, visit

A Medical Abortion is Anything but Simple

Medication abortions are often advertised as the “easier” abortion option, but it is a serious procedure that deserves careful thought and consideration. At The Pregnancy Network, we care about your health holistically. We understand that this decision will impact you physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. 

When you make a free appointment, a trained peer advocate and staff registered nurse will meet with you to confirm your pregnancy, provide a limited ultrasound, and provide you with information about all your options. You owe it to yourself to be fully informed, and we’re here to help you every step of the way. 

Call today to schedule your free appointment. You can also check out these helpful articles as you consider your next steps:

Mary Holloman

Mary Holloman

Mary is the Communications Coordinator at The Pregnancy Network.