Everything You Need to Know About the Abortion Pill
July 21 2022 | Written by Rhea Kumar (She/Her)
In the wake of recent news about the overturning of Roe v. Wade, meaning that in the U.S, the constitutional right to abortion has ended - we thought it would be good, actually necessary, to discuss the abortion pill.
Since the ruling on June 24, 2022, visits to tele-health abortion platforms soared to 436,727, that’s up 25785% from just the day before. The next day, traffic continued to rise more than 50%.
Abortion is now legal to varying extents in only 20 states and D.C. To understand the geography of the ruling, and how it stands on a state-by-state basis, The Guardian created an interactive map to give readers an idea.
As many scramble to understand the abortion pill, acquire it and use it in a timely manner, there’s a lot of misinformation around this option, so we’re here to give you the 101 on what you should know.
What Are Abortion Pills?
Medical abortion uses medication rather than an internal procedure to end a pregnancy. Abortion pills are considered a safe and effective option. It’s often referred to as the Mifepristone and Misoprostol regimen. Together, these two drugs are considered the gold standard of abortion medication.
When Can I Take the Abortion Pill?
The abortion pill can be taken up to the 11th week of pregnancy. It’s recommended to take the pill around the 6th week because the probability of a miscarriage after 6 weeks of pregnancy drops to 10%, therefore the likelihood that one could still be pregnant remains high.
How Do They Work To Terminate Pregnancy?
According to Planned Parenthood, pregnancy requires the hormone progesterone, and Mifepristone blocks the body’s production of progesterone thus stopping the pregnancy from progressing.
Then, either immediately or up to 48 hrs later, Misoprostol is taken. This medication essentially gives you a very heavy period, thereby clearing out the uterus; in theory it’s similar to an early miscarriage. One should expect bleeding within the first 24 hours of taking Misoprostol. If you don’t, call your nurse or doctor immediately.
Side Effects and Pain
As mentioned before, the abortion pill can give you symptoms similar to a miscarriage. However, every individual's experience is different. In addition to expected bleeding and cramping, you may also experience:
Access (Canada and the U.S.)
In Canada, the right to abortion is legal, and abortion pills have been approved by Health Canada since 2015. However, abortion pills were not actually available or accessible until 2017. The two medications necessary come together under the brand Mifegymiso. Only physicians are permitted to prescribe this medication and they must watch the patient take the pill. Every province and territory except Nunavut covers the abortion pill.
The United States
You may be able to access the abortion pill from a Planned Parenthood Health Centre. If your local Planned Parenthood Health Center doesn’t provide abortion pills, they can redirect you where to access it. Depending on where you live, there may be restrictions if you’re 17 years old or younger. In some states you can request abortion pills via tele-health consultation (aka online). In this case, you’d be performing a self-managed abortion, which can be managed safely and effectively for those who:
- Have regular periods
- Have access to accurate information on how to take the pills
- Don’t have medical reasons preventing them from taking such pills (such as bleeding disorders)
- Are able to get urgent care if needed
It should also be noted that on your journey to finding a safe abortion option, Planned Parenthood cautions:
For many, a self-managed abortion may be their reality due to the recent overturning of Roe v Wade and other trigger laws that prevent those in need from receiving abortions
Remember, you are not alone on this journey, and always seek medical advice before taking matters into your own hands. If you’re reading this and have someone in mind who needs to read this, please share it, as there’s never been a more crucial time to be informed.
Note: This blog does not constitute as medical device. Before taking any action, always speak to a medical professional first.
Want to learn more about how to show up for abortion access? Check out the document linked here, filled with helpful information and resources.