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Medical Abortion (The Abortion Pill)

Abortion costs and procedures vary greatly depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy. The first trimester of pregnancy is defined as weeks 1 through 12 and is calculated from the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP). In early pregnancy, both a medical and surgical abortion are available based on state laws and limitations. Each type of abortion has its own set of risks. Below is information about a first trimester medical abortion also known as the Abortion Pill. See Additional Health Information to the right for a link to First Trimester Surgical Abortion.

As you are learning more about abortion, consider the following questions to ensure you are prepared for whatever decision you make.

What is a Medical Abortion (Abortion Pill)?

The abortion pill is known as a medical abortion because the method of terminating the pregnancy is by taking medication rather than surgery. This process involves taking two different drugs: Mifepristone and Misoprostol. Each works to terminate and expel an existing pregnancy. Medical abortion comes with serious risks and side effects.

Medical Abortion is only for women 10 weeks pregnant or earlier, otherwise, a surgical abortion would be necessary. To be sure of how far along you are, a pre-termination consultation is next. Both lab-quality pregnancy testing and an ultrasound are needed to confirm details of your pregnancy and determine what pregnancy options you’re eligible for.


When can you have a medical abortion?

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the abortion pill regimen for up to 10 weeks LMP. Women over 10 weeks of pregnancy are not eligible for the abortion pill because they’re too far along.  A surgical abortion may be an option for you if you are over 10 weeks pregnant.

How does a medical abortion work?

A medical abortion involves a two-step process of medications taken 24-48 hours apart that ultimately cause the uterus to contract and expel the fetus.

The first drug, Mifepristone, blocks the womb from absorbing progesterone. Without the hormone progesterone, the pregnancy will not be able to survive and progress. This causes the uterus lining to thin and prevents the embryo from implanting or growing.

The second drug, Misoprostol, causes the uterus to contract, leading to cramping and bleeding. This series of cramping and bleeding will cause the woman’s body to expel the pregnancy through the vagina.  

What are the normal steps to a medical abortion?
  • The abortion clinic will provide the first pill Mifeprex and it will be taken while at the facility. This pill blocks the hormone progesterone needed for the continuation of the pregnancy. Remember it is your choice to proceed with the abortion or leave the facility at your own discretion.
  • The abortion provider will advise the patient about the potential risks. The provider should schedule a follow up appointment for 7-14 days out. This is very important to make sure the abortion was complete.
  • The abortion provider will give directions for taking the 2nd medication (misoprostol) 24-48 hours after the first medication is taken. The provider should also advise how to get emergency care if needed after taking the second medication. They should explain what to expect after taking this medication and what is considered unusual or extreme side effects to determine when emergency care might be needed.
  • The second medication acts to cause the uterus to contract and should expel the fetus within 2-24 hours.
  • It is important to keep the scheduled follow up appointment to verify the completeness of the abortion.
    Did you take the first pill and change your mind?

    Timing is key when seeking to reverse the process of Mifepristone. If you are able to, start reversal within 24 hours of taking the first abortion pill. Abortion pill reversal is only effective for women who only took the first abortion pill, Mifepristone. If you’ve taken the second pill, Misoprostol, unfortunately, the abortion cannot be undone.

    If you are over 24 hours after, you may still have an opportunity to reverse your abortion. Abortion Pill Rescue shares that even treatment taken 72 hours after the first abortion pill has been successful for some women. It’s never too late to try. If you have a change in heart after taking the first abortion drug, get help as soon as possible. Your pregnancy can potentially be saved.

    Call the Abortion Pill Rescue 24/7 at 877-558-0333. Or chat with them by visiting their website: https://abortionpillreversal.com/.

    Additional information about costs and risks:


    The cost of a medical abortion varies greatly from state to state. The average cost is $300 – $800.

    Out-of-pocket abortion costs are expensive and costs vary based on a couple of different factors, including…

    • What abortion provider you choose
    • How far along you are (which determines what abortion procedure you have)
    • Where you live (costs vary state to state)

    For out-of-pocket abortion costs, The Guttmacher Institute reveals that a first-trimester abortion can cost around $500 and a second-trimester abortion around $1,000 in the U.S. Late-term abortion costs, even more, around $3,000 or higher.


    Although immediate serious complications are rare, you should review the list of possible immediate and longer-term symptoms and complications before considering a medical abortion. Consider these risks before proceeding with a medical abortion. 

    Talk to us today if you have any further concerns or questions about medical abortion and the risks that come with it.

    Immediate Risks:
    • Heavy bleeding
    • Abdominal pain or “feeling sick”
    • Fever
    • Infection
    • Incomplete abortion
    • Allergic reaction to medications
    Longer Term Risks:

    Emotional –Abortion as a pregnancy outcome can be difficult with varying emotional responses. Some women immediately feel the impact of their decision while others report the effects of their decision five to eight years after the abortion experience. Some of the emotional factors experienced by women choosing abortion include:

    • Elevated rates of depression compared to women without a history of abortion. The instance of depression is higher in women who have abortions in their 2nd and 3rd trimester.
    • Increased substance abuse.
    • Anxiety, anger, guilt, shame, and feeling “numb” are some of the descriptions used in Post Abortion Syndrome. Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS) has been included as a subset of Post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) in recent years.

    Relational – An abortion decision will impact relationships in your life whether you have shared this information with people around you or not. If those in your life are aware of your decision, this can affect your relationship with them. Maybe you did what they wanted or maybe you did not. If they are unaware of your decision, your perception of what they would think may affect your relationship. Relationships which are likely to be affected include:

      • your partner
      • your parents
      • your current children
      • your future children

    Spiritual – Would you consider yourself to be spiritual? What was your opinion about abortion before you found yourself in this place? What are your beliefs about God? Because we are made of mind, body, and soul, exploring the effects abortion has on your spiritual future is important.

    Fetal Development

    At 4 Weeks
    • The embryo has a heart beat. At 6 weeks heart motion can be seen on an ultrasound.
    8 Weeks
    The embryo measures ½ inch from head to rump. Internal bodily functions are present and will continue to develop.
    9 -10 Weeks
    The baby is called a fetus, which means “unborn offspring.”The fetus can hiccup and move hands. Distinct differences between sexes develop with ovaries in a girl and testes in a boy.
    11-12 Weeks
    During weeks 11-12 the baby will yawn, swallow, form fingerprints and toenails. By the end of the 12 weeks baby will measure 3 inches from head to rump.

    Sources for this page:

    American Pregnancy Association. (n.d.). Abortion Pill. Retrieved from: https://americanpregnancy.org/unplanned-pregnancy/abortion-pill/

    Coleman P., Coyle C., Rue V. (2010, August 1). Late-Term Elective Abortion and Susceptibility to Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms. Retrieved from: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jp/2010/130519/

    Cougle J., Reardon D., Coleman P., (2003, April 9). Depression Associated With Abortion and Childbirth: A Long-Term Analysis of the NLSY Cohort. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12709667/

    Reardon D., Coleman P., Cougle J., (2004, May25) Substance Use Associated with Unintended Pregnancy Outcomes in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Retrieved from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1081/ADA-120037383

    Speckhard A., Rue V. (1992 Fall) Postabortion Syndrome: An Emerging Public Health Concern. Retrieved from: https://spssi.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1540-4560.1992.tb00899.x

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