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Medication Abortion Pill

The “medication abortion pill” which induces a medical abortion method is also known as RU486 or a “medication abortion.”

This abortion procedure has been approved for use in pregnancies within 49 days of the last menstrual period and is considered unsafe beyond that time.

The pill, mifepristone, causes an abortion by blocking the hormone progesterone, which is necessary for pregnancy to continue. The abortion pill is administered in three doses, along with another drug, misoprostol, and typically requires three clinic visits.

On the first visit, the woman takes three mifepristone abortion pills, which results in the death of the fetus.

On Day 3, she takes the second abortion pill, misoprostol, which will cause cramping to expel the fetus.

A follow-up visit is required two weeks after taking the abortion pill to ensure that the pregnancy has terminated. If an ultrasound scan shows that the fetus has not been expelled, a surgical abortion will be required, typically at an additional cost.


Other names for the abortion pill (Ru486):

Mifepristone is the generic name for RU-486. In the U.S., RU486 is sold under the brand names Mifeprex® and Early Option®.

The abortion pill involves two drugs:

When taken alone, RU486 results in a complete abortion only about 60% of the time. A second drug, a prostaglandin, is given 48 hours later to increase the abortion pill’s effectiveness. The prostaglandin causes uterine contractions to help expel the fetus. Misoprostol (brand name Cytotec) is the prostaglandin used with RU-486 in the U.S.

Adverse events and side effects of the abortion pill:

In U.S. trials of RU486/misoprostol, at least 99% of patients experienced at least one of the following medication abortion pill side effects:

  • Abdominal pain (cramping) (97%)
  • Nausea (67%)
  • Headache (32%)
  • Vomiting (34%)
  • Diarrhea (23%)
  • Dizziness (12%)
  • Fatigue (9%)
  • Back pain (9%)
  • Uterine hemorrhage (7%)
  • Fever (4%)
  • Viral infections (4%)
  • Vaginitis (4%)
  • Rigors (chills/shaking)(3%)

More than one adverse event was reported for most patients. Approximately 23% of the adverse events were judged to be “severe.”

The FDA is aware of women in the United States who died from sepsis (severe illness caused by infection of the bloodstream) after medical abortion with Mifeprex and misoprostol.


Who Should not take the abortion pill (ru486):

The FDA advises that the Medication abortion pill (RU486) should NOT be taken if any one of the following circumstances apply:

  • It has been more than 49 days since your last menstrual period began.
  • You have an IUD, which must be removed before taking the pill.
  • Your healthcare provider has told you that you have an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy outside the uterus). Note: About 2% of pregnancies are ectopic.
  • You have problems with your adrenal glands (chronic adrenal failure).
  • You take a medicine to thin your blood.
  • You have a bleeding problem.
  • You take certain steroid medications.
  • You cannot return for the necessary follow-up visits (2 days and 14 days after taking RU-486).
  • You cannot easily access emergency medical help, including blood transfusions and emergency resuscitation, in the 2 weeks after taking the medication abortion pill.
  • You are allergic to mifepristone [RU-486], misoprostol, or medicines that contain misoprostol such as Cytotec or Arthrotec.

Calculating the Length of Pregnancy:

Doctors calculate the length of pregnancy by counting from the first day of the last menstrual period (LMP), approximately two weeks prior to conception (fertilization). So “up to 49 days LMP” means up to 5 weeks after conception.

Understanding the details and implications of choosing the medication abortion pill is crucial for anyone considering this option. It’s important to be fully aware of the time constraints, procedure, potential side effects, and risks involved with this form of abortion. The use of RU486, coupled with misoprostol, is a significant medical decision that should be made with comprehensive knowledge and under professional medical guidance.

For those considering this option, it’s vital to consult with healthcare professionals to ensure safety and to discuss any concerns or questions you might have. It’s equally important to understand the legal and health criteria that determine eligibility for taking the medication abortion pill. Remember, this decision is not just about the immediate termination of pregnancy but also involves considering your long-term health and well-being.

If you or someone you know is facing an unplanned pregnancy and contemplating a medication abortion, consider reaching out to Positive Choices for detailed information and support. Making an informed decision is essential, and it’s important to have access to all the facts and support systems available. Remember, you are not alone in this journey, and there are resources and people ready to help you through this process.

Positive Choices offers individual consultation and accurate information about all pregnancy options.

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Birmingham, AL:
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Call: 205.836.0564
Text: 205.606.4747