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Since the year 2000 there has been an alternative to surgical abortion in the United States. Named for the French pharmaceutical company that created it, RU-486 it is often referred as the “abortion pill”. It has been used by over one million women in the United States since its approval here.

An RU-486 abortion is a procedure that involves two different drugs. The first drug ends the pregnancy by cutting off the blood supply to the developing fetus. The second drug, given 48 hours after the first, is used to expel it. A pregnancy is usually ended in most women within 48 hours, though in some instances it can take as long as two weeks.

There are several key factors to consider before considering this as an abortion option.

  • This process needs close observation and frequently requires as many as three visits to your medical provider.
  • RU-486 is only effective in early pregnancy, preferably at 7 weeks or before.
  • The minimum failure rate is 8%, and a failed abortion requires a surgical procedure.
  • The cost of using the “abortion pill” can be as much as twice the cost of a surgical abortion.
  • Women with certain common medical conditions will not be eligible.
  • Side effects of both medications can be severe and unpleasant.
  • The major medical risks involved in this abortion method are excessive bleeding and infection.
  • RU-486 is known to cause significant birth defects so your medical provider will not support your desire to change your mind once the first pill has been taken.
  • There is active participation on the part of the woman in terminating her pregnancy.

Though it may initially appear that this form of abortion is quick and easy, it can actually be a more lengthy, costly, and difficult process.

Because the “abortion pill” must be used early in the pregnancy, there is no way to know whether a pregnancy is likely to continue. Since 1 in 6 pregnancies will naturally end in a miscarriage you may be committing yourself to an unnecessary procedure to end a pregnancy that may end on its own.

About 20% of women who use RU-486 to end their pregnancy will continue to have some degree of bleeding for 5-6 weeks after. Occasionally, surgical intervention is needed to stop or control excessive or prolonged bleeding.

Before committing to an RU-486 abortion, get all of the facts and weigh the costs of what may be bitter pills to swallow.

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.