The abortion pill is made up of two very powerful drugs. The first drug ends the pregnancy. The second drug causes contractions to expel the pregnancy. 

Keep reading to learn more about how the abortion pill works, the risks associated with the abortion pill, and what you should do before you decide to take it.

How Does the Abortion Pill Work?

The abortion pill goes by many different names. Chemical abortion, medical abortion, RU-486, and medication abortion all refer to the same thing. It is a two-step process involving the two drugs mifepristone and misoprostol. 


Mifepristone is prescribed by an abortionist and often taken at the clinic. It can also be picked up at a pharmacy or ordered online, but because of the risks involved with mifepristone (see below), this is not always what’s best for your health.

This drug blocks progesterone, a hormone needed for the pregnancy to continue, thus ending the pregnancy.


Misoprostol is also prescribed by an abortionist but is taken at least 24-48 hours after mifepristone. This drug causes cramping and contractions to force the fetal tissue out of the uterus. 

It’s important to know that the abortion pill is only FDA-approved for the first 70 days (nine weeks) of pregnancy. 

Does the Abortion Pill Come With Risks?

Yes. All abortions, whether via pill or surgery, have risks. According to the Mayo Clinic, the risks of the abortion pill are:

  • Incomplete abortion (can require a surgical abortion)
  • An ongoing pregnancy if the procedure doesn’t work
  • Heavy and prolonged bleeding
  • Infection
  • Fever

Because the abortion pill procedure is completed at home, women need to carefully self-monitor for signs of severe risks, which include the following:

  • Heavy bleeding — soaking two or more pads an hour for two hours
  • Severe abdominal or back pain
  • Fever lasting more than 24 hours
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge

 If you experience any of these signs, you should reach out to your provider or a doctor immediately.

Should I Take the Abortion Pill?

Before taking any drug or medication, it’s important to understand all of the ways it may impact you. The same is true for the abortion pill. Understanding the risks is a good first step, but you also need to understand if you qualify for the abortion pill.

Are you more than 70 days into your pregnancy? Many don’t accurately date their pregnancies and may miscalculate, leading to taking the drugs too late.

Is your pregnancy located in your uterus? An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that’s growing outside of the uterus. This non-viable pregnancy usually requires medical intervention so it doesn’t cause harm to your health.

An ultrasound can help answer both of these questions, helping you gain needed information before you make your decision.

Where Can I Find Help?

At Turlock Pregnancy and Health Center, we offer no-cost, confidential ultrasound exams so you can get all the information you need to make an empowered choice.

Contact us to schedule your appointment today.

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