What is the Abortion Pill?

The shock of an unplanned pregnancy can make you feel unsure about your decision. As you decide, you’ll want to have all the facts about your options and the information about your pregnancy. Keep reading to learn about the abortion pill and what you need to know beforehand!

How Does the Abortion Pill Work? 

With the abortion pill, a woman intentionally takes medication to terminate her pregnancy. Abortion pills may also be called a medical abortion, chemical abortion, RU-486, or at-home abortion. 

The process involves two medications. The first medication, mifepristone, interferes with progesterone receptors and prevents the pregnancy from developing. The second medication, misoprostol, causes the uterus to cramp and expel the pregnancy.[1] 

Can Your Gynecologist Give You the Abortion Pill? 

In states where abortion is legal, only certified doctors or mid-level providers can prescribe abortion pills. They will determine whether a woman qualifies for an abortion based on the gestational age. They will also rule out contraindications to an abortion such as an ectopic pregnancy, drug allergies, blood thinning disorders, an IUD, or other medical disorders[2].

Pathway Health Clinic provides free ultrasounds to determine your gestational age. Click here to learn more.

How Much Does the Abortion Pill Cost?

Abortion pills can cost up to $750 and include fees for ultrasounds, blood tests, medications, and follow-up appointments. At Pathway Health Clinic we provide cost-free pregnancy confirmation and limited ultrasounds. 

What are the Risks of the Abortion Pill? 

Like any medical procedure or medication, the abortion pill has risks.[3] First, women wanting an abortion should rule out an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy develops outside of the uterus and can be life-threatening if not properly treated. So, before taking abortion pills, it is recommended that a woman receive an ultrasound first. 

Further complications after taking mifepristone include prolonged bleeding, an infection, an allergic reaction, or an incomplete abortion, which could require further medical intervention. 

How Effective is the Abortion Pill? 

Up to 8% of women who take the abortion pill require a further surgical procedure because the abortion was incomplete.[4]

Where Can I Go to Get an Abortion Pill? 

Some providers require a woman to take the first pill in the abortion clinic. Others, depending on state laws, can obtain abortion pills from certified pharmacies. Women should never order abortion pills online from a foreign pharmacy. The FDA has not evaluated those pills for safety[5] and could contain the wrong amount of medication. 

How Far Along Can You Take the Abortion Pill? 

Women qualify for the abortion pill only up until 10 weeks of gestation.[6] Gestational age can be estimated based on a woman’s last menstrual period, but an ultrasound is the most exact way to determine the gestational age. Call Pathway Health Clinic for a free ultrasound today.  

How Long Does the Abortion Pill Take to Work? 

During the abortion pill regimen, a woman takes mifepristone first. Then, 24 to 48 hours later she takes misoprostol which causes her uterus to cramp and to expel the pregnancy. She may continue to experience bleeding for about 9 to 16 days and could bleed up to 30 days. [7] She should follow up with a provider 7 to 14 days after taking the abortion pill to evaluate for complications.[8]

Does the Abortion Pill Hurt? 

Everyone tolerates pain differently, but on average, women report a higher level of pain than they expected. They describe the pain as worse than menstrual cramps and compare it to labor contractions.[9]

Is Plan B an Abortion Pill? 

Plan B is an emergency contraception and can be referred to as the morning-after pill. Emergency contraception and abortion pills are different. Emergency contraception attempts to prevent a pregnancy from starting by delaying ovulation and preventing fertilization, but the abortion pills end a pregnancy that has already begun. 

Abortion Pill Information in Vista, California 

Weighing the pros and cons of abortion can feel overwhelming. But you aren’t alone! Visit Pathway Health Clinic to speak with our qualified and compassionate staff. We provide a non-judgmental space for you to process your questions and concerns. 

Please be aware that Pathway Health Clinic does not provide or refer for abortion services.


  1. Cleveland Clinic. (2024). Medical Abortion. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/21899-medical-abortion
  2. FDA. (2023, January). Questions and Answers on Mifepristone for Medical Termination of Pregnancy Through Ten Weeks Gestation. FDA. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/questions-and-answers-mifepristone-medical-termination-pregnancy-through-ten-weeks-gestation?sm_guid=NTU1NzgyfDYzMDE1OTM2fC0xfGppbUBha2ZhbWlseS5vcmd8NTY4OTI4MXx8MHwwfDE5OTYwMDk4OHwxMDg2fDB8MHx8NTQ3NzI2fDA1
  3. What is the Abortion Pill? (2024, January 10). Pregnancy Decision Line. https://pregnancydecisionline.org/what-is-the-abortion-pill/
  4. Danco Laboratories, LLC. (2022). MEDICATION GUIDE: Mifeprex. Danco Laboratories, LLC. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2011/020687s014lbl.pdf
  5. FDA. (2023, January). Questions and Answers on Mifepristone for Medical Termination of Pregnancy Through Ten Weeks Gestation.
  6. Danco Laboratories, LLC. (2022). MEDICATION GUIDE: Mifeprex
  7. Ibid.
  8. FDA. (2023, September 1). Questions and Answers on Mifepristone for Medical Termination of Pregnancy Through Ten Weeks Gestation. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/questions-and-answers-mifepristone-medical-termination-pregnancy-through-ten-weeks-gestation 
  9. Georgsson, S., & Carlsson, T. (2019). Pain and pain management during induced abortions: A web-based exploratory study of recollections from previous patients. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 75(11), 3006–3017. https://doi.org/10.1111/jan.14132 
Is At-Home Abortion Safe?

If you’re facing an unplanned pregnancy, you’ve likely heard the term “at-home abortion”. You may be wondering how it works, what your options are, and if it’s the right choice for you. 

It’s crucial to get all the facts, so you can make a fully informed decision. In this blog, we’ll explore at-home abortions—including how they work and if they’re safe, legal, and right for you. Keep reading to learn more! 

How Does an At-Home Abortion Work? 

An at-home abortion is exactly what it sounds like—an abortion done at home. Some women attempt at-home abortions by ingesting a mixture of herbs (more on that in a moment). Others take the abortion pill (also known as medication abortion). 

Although it’s called the abortion pill (singular), there are actually two pills in the abortion pill regimen: mifepristone and misoprostol. 

Mifepristone is taken first, usually in a clinic. This pill cuts the supply of the hormone progesterone to the embryo, which is needed to continue the pregnancy. The embryo stops growing without a steady supply of progesterone.

Misoprostol is taken 24-48 hours later at home. It causes the uterus to cramp and expel the embryo, which ends the pregnancy.

Are At-Home Abortions Legal?

Currently, abortion in California is legal up to viability[1]. However, you can’t take the abortion pill beyond 10 weeks of pregnancy (or 70 days since the first day of your last menstrual period)[2]

Before an at-home abortion, consider receiving a free ultrasound at Pathway Health Clinic to determine how far along you are and to make sure the pregnancy is placed inside the uterus and not the fallopian tube. If not, this is called an ectopic pregnancy and requires immediate medical attention.

If your ultrasound determines that you’re too far along for the abortion pill, we will help you explore all of your pregnancy options, so you can make the best choice for your health and future!

Are At-Home Abortions Safe?

At-home abortions are not without risk. After taking the abortion pill, you could experience severe side effects, such as: 

  • Hemorrhaging. It’s normal to bleed for a while after taking the abortion pill. However, if you soak through two full-size sanitary pads per hour, for two or more hours, you could be hemorrhaging[3].
  • Anaphylactic Shock. You could go into anaphylactic shock if you’re allergic to any of the ingredients in misoprostol[4].
  • Incomplete abortion. Incomplete abortions occur when some pregnancy tissue remains in the uterus after misoprostol has been taken. You may need emergency surgery to remove the remaining tissue and prevent an infection[5]
  • Infection. If you experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or a fever for more than 24 hours after taking the second medication, an infection may have developed. You may need antibiotics or even surgery to treat your condition[5].

Herbal abortions are also incredibly dangerous. You may have seen videos on social media talking about how easy and convenient they are. However, there isn’t enough scientific evidence available to suggest that they actually work. Additionally, medical professionals warn that they can cause permanent infertility, significant sickness, organ failure, and even death[6]

Abortion Information in Vista, CA

We get it—an unplanned pregnancy can leave you feeling desperate. Many of us at Pathway Health Clinic have been there ourselves. It’s our mission to help you protect your health and make a safe, informed decision! We provide abortion information, free pregnancy services, and a nonjudgmental space to explore your options and process your emotions. 

Schedule your free appointment today. All services are confidential and provided at no cost to you!

Please be aware that Pathway Health Clinic does not provide or refer for abortion services. 


  1. Your Legal Right to an Abortion. California Abortion Access. (2023). https://abortion.ca.gov/your-rights/your-legal-right-to-an-abortion/index.html 
  2. FDA. (2023, September 1). Questions and Answers on Mifeprex. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/questions-and-answers-mifeprex  
  3. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2016, May 16). Mifepristone (Mifeprex). MedlinePlus. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a600042.html 
  4. Shin, Hyun Joo, et al. “Anaphylactic Shock to Vaginal Misoprostol: A Rare Adverse Reaction to a Frequently Used Drug.” PubMed Central (PMC), 9 Aug. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6137020
  5. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, July 29). Medical Abortion. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/medical-abortion/about/pac-20394687
  6. Wancour, B. (2022, July 19). Medicine’s Ryan Marino discussed the dangers of “herbal abortions.” Case Western Reserve University. https://thedaily.case.edu/medicines-ryan-marino-discussed-the-dangers-of-herbal-abortions/  
Can Misoprostol Work Without Mifepristone?

Over the past few months, there’s been a legal battle over access to mifepristone (also known as Mifeprex), one of the drugs used in the abortion pill regimen. In response, some women have turned to misoprostol-only abortions. If you’re facing an unplanned pregnancy and your state has been affected by the mifepristone ban, you may be wondering if a misoprostol-only abortion is the right choice for you.

In this article, we’ll explore how misoprostol-only abortions work, their risks and side effects, and help you take your next steps! Keep reading to learn more.

How Does a Misoprostol-Only Abortion Work?

Normally, two pills are taken in the abortion pill regimen. 

Mifepristone is taken first, which blocks the supply of the hormone progesterone to the embryo, which is needed to maintain the pregnancy. The embryo stops growing without a steady supply of progesterone. Misoprostol is taken 24-48 hours later, which causes the uterus to cramp, bleed, and expel the pregnancy. 

In a misoprostol-only abortion, you skip the mifepristone and take multiple doses of misoprostol instead. The dose you take depends on your gestational age. Misoprostol can only be taken through ten weeks gestation (or 70 days or less since the first day of the last period)[1].

Are Misoprostol Only Abortions Safe?

Although misoprostol alone can be used to induce an abortion, this method is not as effective as the combination of mifepristone and misoprostol[2]. Misoprostol can also cause severe side effects, such as[3]

  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Faster than normal heart rhythm (sinus tachycardia)
  • Heart attack (myocardial infarction)
  • Cuts or tears to the cervix (cervical laceration)
  • Uterine rupture 
  • Infection (caused by a uterine rupture)
  • Severe allergic reaction

It’s also important to note that not everyone can take misoprostol. Those who experience kidney disease, stomach ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, heart or blood vessel problems, or dehydration should not take misoprostol, as it could worsen their conditions[4]. Speak to your doctor beforehand and never order misoprostol online without a prescription! 

Which is Safer: D&C or Misoprostol? 

If you’re not able to take misoprostol, you may be wondering if a dilation and curettage (D&C) is a better option. Unfortunately, D&Cs also come with serious risks, including:

Asherman’s Syndrome

Asherman’s Syndrome is a condition where scar tissue builds up inside the uterus[5]. Women who have had multiple D&Cs are at greater risk of developing Asherman’s Syndrome. In the first trimester, up to 13% of women develop the condition after a D&C. For women who have late-term abortions, the risk jumps to 30%[6]

Cervical Damage

The cervix can be torn during a D&C. The provider may have to administer medicine or stitch the wound to stop the bleeding[7].


Uterine Perforation 

The surgical tools used in a D&C may accidentally poke a hole in the uterus. The wound may be able to heal on its own, but if an organ is damaged, you may need surgery to treat it[7].

Explore Your Options at Pathway Health Clinic 

An unplanned pregnancy comes with a lot of overwhelming choices. Even one choice can feel like one too many. You don’t have to take this next step alone! Pathway Health Clinic is a safe, confidential place to explore your pregnancy options at your own pace. We’re here to help you make an informed and empowered decision. 

Give us a call at (760) 945-4673 or request an appointment online today. All services are confidential and free of charge! 

Please be aware that Pathway Health Clinic does not provide or refer for abortion services. 


  1. FDA. (2023, September 1). Questions and Answers on Mifeprex. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/questions-and-answers-mifepristone-medical-termination-pregnancy-through-ten-weeks-gestation 
  2. Schreiber, C. A., Creinin, M. D., Atrio, J., Sonalkar, S., Ratcliffe, S. J., & Barnhart, K. (2018, June 7). Mifepristone Pretreatment for the Medical Management of Early Pregnancy Loss. The New England Journal of Medicine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29874535/  
  3. Krugh, M., & Maani, C. V. (2023, April 21). Misoprostol. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK539873/ 
  4. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2023, February 1). Misoprostol (Oral Route) Side Effects. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/misoprostol-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20064805?p=1 
  5. Asherman’s Syndrome. Cleveland Clinic. (2022, January 8). Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16561-ashermans-syndrome 
  6. Smikle, C., Yarrarapu, S. N. S., & Khetarpal, S. (2023, July 24). Asherman Syndrome. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448088/    
  7. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, October 19). Dilation and Curettage (D&C). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/dilation-and-curettage/about/pac-20384910