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How is a medication abortion performed?

In a medication abortion, also known as a medical or chemical abortion or the “abortion pill,” a woman is administered an abortion-inducing compound called mifepristone (also called RU-486 or Mifeprex). Mifepristone blocks the action of progesterone, the natural hormone vital to maintaining the lining of the uterus. As the nutrient lining disintegrates, the embryo starves. Subsequently, the woman takes a dose of misoprostol, which initiates uterine contractions and causes the embryo to be expelled from the uterus. Mifepristone is approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) up to 70 days after the woman’s last menstrual period, but many abortionists prescribe it after 70 days, when side effects are known to be more severe.


North, Anna. “People are using abortion medication later in their pregnancies. Here’s what that means.” Vox, June 18, 2023. Accessed October 19, 2023. https://www.vox.com/23755658/abortion-pill-second-trimester-mifepristone-misoprostol.

Willke, John, MD and Barbara Willke. Abortion: Questions & Answers. Cincinnati: Hayes, 2003.

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