The abortion pill makes up about a quarter of all abortions. When scientific evidence highlighted the safety of the pill in 2016, the FDA relaxed guidelines. So the popularity of the abortion pill will likely continue to increase. This pill is a favorite talking point for right wing anti-choice activists. That’s likely because it makes abortion a more convenient option, and gives the woman substantial control over when and under what circumstances to terminate her pregnancy. Misconceptions about the abortion pill are common. That’s in spite of the fact that, for many women, it’s an affordable and relatively easy option. Here are five abortion pill facts you should know.
Abortion Pill Facts: An Abortion Pill Abortion is Similar to a Miscarriage
The abortion pill is actually two different drugs. Mifepristone blocks progesterone receptors. Progesterone is vital to the development of early pregnancy. So when the body doesn’t have enough progesterone, a pregnancy stops developing. Women who don’t produce enough progesterone tend to have early miscarriages. The second drug, Misoprostol, helps the body expel the pregnancy. This means that the symptoms and biological reality of an abortion pill abortion are virtually identical to a miscarriage. Women commonly experience cramps, bleeding, and nausea, but rarely experience more serious symptoms.
Abortion Pill Facts: The Abortion Pill is Safe
The abortion pill is exponentially safer than continuing a pregnancy. About 1 in 15,000 pregnant women die during childbirth. The figure for a medication-induced abortion is 1 in 200,000. Two to three percent of women experience minor complications that warrant a follow-up to their doctor or a hospital. That figure is similar to or lower than the complication rate of other minor medical procedures, such as tooth extractions and mole removals.
Perhaps most significantly, it is a myth that the abortion pill causes breast cancer, infertility, or post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact, most women report relief, or even gratitude, following a medication abortion. Less than 5% of women who have abortions regret their decision.
The Abortion Pill Requires a Prescription
Some women confuse the morning-after pill with the abortion pill. They’re categorically different. The morning-after pill will not induce an abortion, and is available in many pharmacies without a prescription. The abortion pill requires a prescription. That’s because it’s safer to have a doctor screen a woman, assess how far along her pregnancy is, and be available if she has questions or experiences complications. It is not safe to use someone else’s abortion pill prescription, or to buy this drug illegally. Like all prescription drugs, the abortion pill is not safe for everyone, and may interact with other medications.
The Abortion Pill May be a More Affordable Option
For most women, the abortion pill is a more affordable option. Surgical abortion requires taking at least one day off of work, and maybe more. It also usually costs several hundred dollars. The abortion pill is more cost effective, requiring a woman only to pay for the pill and the cost of a doctor’s appointment. Some clinics offer free or discounted abortion pills. Likewise, women who are insured may have to pay only a copay for the doctor’s appointment to receive the pill.
The Abortion Pill Offers Women More Control
Going to an abortion clinic may mean waiting many hours, then having an abortion on a doctor’s schedule. A woman can’t take another day or another hour to contemplate her decision without inconveniencing the doctor or changing her appointment. She’ll also have to interact with clinical staff, and may encounter protesters. For women who prefer a more private experience, the abortion pill may be a better option. The woman has complete control over when to take the pill. She can have a friend or family member with her. She can even perform a religious or other ritual if she chooses.