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Is the Abortion Pill Available Over-the-Counter?

Once you’ve taken time to process the news of an unexpected pregnancy, you may have begun to think about what your next step should be. The arrival of a circumstance you may not have planned for can inspire distressing emotions, and it’s possible you feel compelled to dispel your anxieties by finding the quickest solution to your unexpected pregnancy. Since a medical abortion sounds less complicated than a surgical one, you may have begun to lean towards this option. As with any form of medication, it’s important to be informed about any possible side effects, and you may have some questions about this abortion method. Perhaps you’re wondering if you can buy the abortion pill over-the-counter, or you may want to know more about what this type of abortion usually entails.

Do you have questions about the abortion pill as you consider your unexpected pregnancy options? Avenue Women’s Center is here to equip you with any information you need through a nonjudgmental and compassionate environment. Our caring pregnancy consultants can walk you through the different types of abortion procedures, answering questions about the abortion pill or any pregnancy-related concerns. We’re here to listen and provide assistance in any way we can. Schedule a free consultation with us today!

How Accessible is the Abortion Pill?

Under the FDA’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy guidelines, it’s required that the abortion pill (RU-486) is dispensed and supervised by a healthcare provider. These providers must meet specific qualifications, such as the ability to assess the duration of a pregnancy, diagnose ectopic pregnancies, and be equipped to perform surgical interventions if necessary. At this time, the abortion pill is not available for over-the-counter purchase.

At the state level, the laws surrounding the abortion pill may vary. Some states may require the clinicians to be physicians in order to provide medical abortions, while others dictate a clinician must be physically present for the procedure.

What Happens During a Medical Abortion?

This non-surgical form of abortion typically requires you to take drugs containing mifepristone and misoprostol if you decide to discontinue your unexpected pregnancy. The type of abortion you undergo is often dependent upon which trimester of your pregnancy you are currently in. When it comes to a medical abortion, it is only FDA approved up till 10 weeks since your last menstrual period.

Prior to making an abortion decision, it’s recommended that you schedule an ultrasound exam through a healthcare provider or through a pregnancy consultant. This will help determine how far along you are, allowing you to see what pregnancy options are still available to you. An ultrasound may also diagnose conditions such as a tubal pregnancy or a miscarriage, saving you the trouble of making an abortion appointment should any of these risks arise.

If eligible for a medical abortion, you may need to visit the clinic to take the first drug, mifepristone. This dosage will block a hormone known as progesterone, which will prevent the pregnancy from continuing. This typically works by stopping the growth of the pregnancy.

In most cases, you will need to wait 24-48 hours before you can ingest misoprostol. This may be administered vaginally or orally. Contractions may begin after you’ve taken this dose, and there may be light or heavy bleeding as the uterine content is expelled from your body.

This process may continue for a few hours or days. If you experience heavy bleeding or blood clots that occur for two hours or more, it may be necessary to call your doctor or dial 911. Women’s experiences with the abortion pill tend to vary, as some have reported painful and excessive bleeding, while others have likened the effects of the pill to an uncomfortable period. Either way, it’s a good idea to know what to expect if you choose this option, helping you to prepare for potential complications with sanitary pads and easy access to medical services.

Decisions about an unexpected pregnancy are often just as life-changing as the pregnancy itself. Each of your options carries their own significant emotional weight, so it’s advised that you think carefully about abortion, adoption, and parenting. The chance to analyze the information you’ve gathered may grant you the opportunity to breathe and compare each pregnancy option side by side. A consultation with a professional, such as a medical professional or a pregnancy consultant, can help you learn more about abortion procedures, and any concerns you have about your unexpected pregnancy can be validated and addressed.

Avenue Women’s Center is the first step for women who may be seeking more information about the abortion pill and other alternatives. We provide clients with a free, limited ultrasound examine to determine your pregnancy’s gestational age and inform you of early pregnancy risks such as miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. Our expert pregnancy consultants are prepared to understand your unique situation and ensure you have reliable information about all of your pregnancy options. Our six locations in DuPage County are open and ready to meet with you. Contact us today and schedule a free appointment!


  • American Pregnancy Association (ASA). ( 2017, April). Medical Abortion Procedures. Retrieved from:
  • US Food and Drug Administration. (2018, February) Mifeprex (mifepristone) Information. Retrieved from:

Reviewed by Patricia Kuenzi, APN-CNP, MSN, ANP, PNP.

The information provided here is general in nature.  It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center.  If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention.  Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.