Do you have a question you’ve been dying to ask, but didn’t know who to turn to? Well, now you do. The National Women’s Health Network has established a weekly Q & A column where you can ask questions on a variety of topics. Those topics include contraception, abortion, sexual health, menopause & menopause hormone therapy, osteoporosis, obesity, and some aspects of heart disease. Each week we will feature a new question. Submit your question today.

The answer to your question might have already been answered, to view past questions click here.

What we are able to provide:

  • A feminist perspective on current issues in women’s health
  • Evidence-based research on the risks and benefits of certain drugs and procedures
  • Information on available treatment options

What we are not able to provide:

  • Give medical advice
  • Physician referrals
  • Financial assistance in paying for health care
  • Information on general health topics

Please note: Questions submitted will not be answered personally, and not all questions submitted will be answered. If your question is selected, you will be notified via email. Before you submit your question, search our website to see if you find the answer to your question. Your answer might be found in a fact sheet, newsletter article or on one of our advocacy pages. NWHN can provide you with accessible and accurate health information; however, we are not medically licensed professionals and thus cannot provide medical diagnostic or treatment advice.

 


Weekly Question – We’ve been surrounded by news stories about women being penalized for wanting to end their pregnancy by taking pills. Can you tell me more about medication abortion? Is it a safe option for ending an unwanted pregnancy?

 

Women decide to have an abortion for a variety of reasons. It is important for all women seeking abortion services to have comprehensive information about the different abortion methods in order to make the decision that is best for them. There are two methods currently available: a procedure performed in an office or clinic or an abortion brought on by taking FDA-approved medication. Both methods are safe and effective for ending a pregnancy.

A medication abortion, also known as an abortion with pills, involves taking two pills. The first pill, mifepristone, is administered by your doctor or nurse. Mifepristone blocks progesterone, preventing the pregnancy from continuing. After 24-48 hours, the second pill, misoprostol, is taken at home. Misoprostol induces heavy bleeding and cramping 1 to 4 hours after taking it. This is a normal response with the purpose of emptying the uterus of pregnancy tissue. You may experience various side-effects in response to medication abortion including tiredness, dizziness, cramping, heavy bleeding, diarrhea, and a mild fever. To alleviate the pain, ibuprofen can be taken, however, aspirin should be avoided as it might increase bleeding. Medical abortions are 95-98% successful.

Just like with any medication, there are potential risks associated with a medical abortion. The likelihood of experiencing these risks are very low. The rare but serious complications include unsuccessful abortion, infection, prolonged bleeding, long-lasting fever, and blood clots in your uterus.

Unfortunately, there are many restrictions on medication abortion, which threaten women’s reproductive rights. Although there is a stigma surrounding a woman’s right to have an abortion, it is important to note that both in-clinic abortion services and FDA-approved abortion pills are safe and effective ways to stop an unintended pregnancy. The National Women’s Health Network believes all barriers to abortion access should be eliminated. We also support the right of women to take FDA-approved abortion medication on their own without the involvement of a clinician. We trust women to make their own decisions regarding their health.