Since medical abortion got approved as a constitutional right in the United States, it accounts for over half of the abortions that happen yearly. However, you should note that this is different from the morning-after pill, also known as Plan B. The medical process involves taking two tablets, mifepristone and misoprostol. The timeline for taking the medicines depends on how far along you are in the pregnancy and the laws governing your state.
How Late Should You Take the Pill?
This question gets asked by so many females as many begin considering their options. It helps you know your options and when it’s safe to go for this procedure. In 2000, FDA passed the law that medical abortion should not happen after 49 days of gestation. These days get counted from the day of your last period, and assume that the pregnancy began there. However, after more research and tests, they revised that limit to 70 days. This means that you can safely perform a medical abortion when you are ten weeks pregnant.
However, other prominent institutions have different views about this issue. The World Health Organization says it is safe to use the pills at 12 weeks, while the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG) stretches the limit further to 24 weeks. The Guttmacher Institute revealed that doctors perform medical abortion off-label later than 12 weeks.
Nevertheless, not many people opt for this process in the second trimester. While the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) agrees with RCOG, they state that the procedure carries higher risks and might not fully complete the abortion. In the cases of incomplete abortion, the doctor may need to do surgical abortion, also called dilation and evacuation (D&E).
As earlier stated, medical abortion requires two pills, misoprostol (Cytotec) and mifepristone, also known as Mifeprex. The work of mifepristone is to stop pregnancy by hindering the production of the hormone that helps sustain early pregnancy, progesterone. When this happens, the uterus begins to thin, and the embryo starts to detach from the uterine wall. Misoprostol comes in next and causes the cervix to dilate and the uterus to contract, thus causing the womb contents to exit through the vagina. Lower abdomen cramping and bleeding will be evident as the pregnancy gets eliminated.
It is essential to note that you shouldn’t take these two pills simultaneously. The order recommended by FDA is as follows:
First day: Take the 200mg mifepristone tablet orally.
After 24 to 48 hours: Insert the 800g misoprostol tablet in the mouth between the cheek and gum. Let it absorb slowly until finished.
The effect should become visible within two to twenty-four hours. However, if you notice any issue, you need to go to a professional healthcare provider for help urgently. Even after safe abortion, you should visit your doctor after a week for an assessment of the bleeding, uterine size, and any signs of infection.
If the dosage doesn’t work, your doctor will advise you on whether to take another dose or proceed to surgical abortion. However, all these decisions vary depending on the laws governing your state. Medical abortion is usually 95% to 99% successful in removing pregnancies up to 12 weeks. The medical practitioner can opt for a vacuum aspiration if it doesn’t work. However, after week 13, D&E would be the appropriate solution.
How to Access the Pills
Accessing abortion medication may vary depending on where you live. In some states, you need to physically go to the hospital for assessment and approval by the physician. However, in others, you may even get them mailed to you from a pharmacy or your physician. You can also get the pills through the mail from organizations such as Hey Jane, Carafem, Choix, Plan C, Aid Access, and Abortion On Your Own Terms.
You can also get access to in-person and virtual abortion providers by visiting the National Abortion Federation or Planned Parenthood.