Six things to do before using the abortion pill

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 blog Share

These precautions make medication abortion safer and more effective


People who want to use mifepristone and misoprostol (or misoprostol alone) to end a pregnancy must make sure they follow these six steps:

1. They must confirm that they really are pregnant. A "pee stick" from the dollar store or an ultrasound at the doctor's office are both fine. The point is simply to avoid taking unnecessary medication. Someone who takes the abortion pill but isn't pregnant won't be harmed, but will have cramps, nausea, and other unpleasant side effects.

2. They must be sure that they are less than 12 weeks pregnant. A person can use the pregnancy calculator at to count how many days it's been since the first day of their last menstrual period. They should only have a self-managed abortion with pills if they have been pregnant for 84 days or less. If they have been pregnant longer than that, the chances of a complication are higher, and the experience is physically and emotionally more difficult.

3. They must make a plan for the day of the abortion. A person should make a plan so the experience is as safe, comfortable, and low-stress as possible. They need a safe, private, comfortable location with easy access to a bathroom. It's important to have someone trusted nearby who can offer emotional support and help in case of complications. They may want to take time off work and/or arrange for childcare. It also helps to have ibuprofen and anti-nausea medicine on hand, and to have snacks so they don't have to go out.

4. They must know they don't have specific health issues that prevent them from using the medication or require special precautions. Anyone who is unsure whether this applies to them should double-check to make sure they don't put themselves at unnecessary risk. It's especially critical for a person with an IUD to have it removed before taking the abortion pill. 

5. They must be within two hours of a hospital. Although complications related to medication abortion are so rare that it's actually safer than pregnancy, it's still best to use abortion pills only when a person is able to get to medical help in two hours or less if necessary.

6. Most importantly, they must be making a free choice to end their pregnancy. It's as wrong to make someone to end a pregnancy they want to continue as it is to make them give birth against their will. If anyone is pressuring, blackmailing, threatening, or in any other way trying to force a person to have an abortion when they don't want to, reach out for help, because that's abuse.

Find out more about having a safe self-managed abortion at We've got lots of frequently asked questions, as well as trained counselors who can answer your questions by email within a few hours.