If you’re considering abortion because of an unplanned pregnancy, it is important to gather as much information as possible to make an informed decision.
There are two primary methods of abortion — surgical (induced) abortion or chemical abortion.
In this article, we talk about two different forms of chemical abortion — the abortion pill and the morning after pill — along with the possible health risks for women who choose this type of abortion.
What Is Chemical Abortion?
Often called “medical” abortion, a chemical abortion involves taking pills to carry out the termination. This method is the early pregnancy alternative to having the baby surgically removed.
Abortion doctors promote chemical abortion as a simple, easy way to end a pregnancy, but because they stand to profit from your decision, they often fail to inform women about how the medications work and the possible significant health risks associated with their use.
There are two primary forms of chemical abortion:
- Emergency contraception, also called the “morning after pill”
- RU486, the so-called “abortion pill”
Emergency Contraception (The “Morning After Pill”)
Emergency contraception, also called the “morning after pill” causes abortion by preventing implantation, which is when your baby attaches to the lining of your uterus after fertilization and is then shed from your body. EC (Emergency Contraception) may also disrupt the normal cycle of your menstruation or delay ovulation making it difficult to track your fertile phases.
The two most popular brands of morning after pill are Plan B One-Step and Ella.
- Plan B: Plan B is available over-the-counter, without a prescription, and contains the active ingredient levonorgestrel, a hormone that is often commonly used in other hormonal birth control pills.
- Ella: Ella can only be obtained with a prescription from an abortion doctor. It contains the active ingredient ulipristal acetate.
Some basic facts about ovulation and the possibility of becoming pregnant:
- A woman ovulates approximately once every 28 days. Therefore the chance that a woman will ovulate on any randomly selected day is 3.57 percent.
- When a woman ovulates, the egg is able to be fertilized for 12-24 hours (1 day).
- When sperm enters the woman’s body, it remains alive and able to fertilize an egg for 1-5 days.
- It takes emergency contraception from 12-24 hours to be effective (1 day).
- Emergency contraception remains effective for at least 10 days.
- It takes a fertilized egg 5-7 days after ovulation to implant in the woman’s womb.
Due to these facts, it is recommended that EC be taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex. It is important to note, however, that 78% of the time EC isn’t necessary as the women wasn’t fertile to begin with. Taking EC later than 72 hours can cause serious complications. For many women, some health risks occur even when taking EC as prescribed. Commonly reported symptoms include the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Breast tenderness
- Bleeding between periods
- Heavier than normal periods
- Persistent lower abdominal pain
Because of these side effects, health experts recommend that the following women should not take morning-after pills:
- Those with allergies to the pills’ ingredients
- Those taking medications that could inhibit the pills’ effectiveness
- Women who are already pregnant, as it could cause miscarriage
- Women who are overweight
RU-486 (The “Abortion Pill”)
The so-called “abortion pill” is actually a combination therapy consisting of two medications.
- The first medication, called mifepristone, is a pill you take at the abortion clinic. This medication blocks the essential reproductive hormone, progesterone, initiating endometrial erosion. This means the growing placenta and fetus are broken away from the lining of your uterus depriving your baby of the oxygen and nutrients he or she needs to survive.
- The second medication, called misoprostol, is taken 1 to 2 days after mifepristone and causes the dilation of your cervix and induces contractions, cramping and heavy bleeding as your baby is expelled from your uterus. Most women abort within 4 to 5 hours of taking misoprostol, but severe bleeding and cramping can continue for several weeks. You may see large blood clots and fetal tissue/parts discharged from your vagina as the abortion takes place.
As with many new drugs, once they are marketed and used in thousands or even millions of individuals it is more likely that rare adverse effects or major complications can occur. Some of these adverse effects range in severity from minor to life threatening. As such, the FDA has found that abortion pills can cause a life-threatening infection known as Clostridium sordellii, which has resulted in the deaths of dozens of women since the pills’ approval in 2000. Infection after any type of abortion, including chemical abortion, is much higher than after childbirth or other medical procedures. Abortion pills can also cause heart attacks.
Besides the number of fatalities caused by the abortion pill, thousands of women have experienced other severe complications:
- Strong allergic reaction to active ingredients
- Failure to terminate the pregnancy, leading to a potentially dangerous suction abortion
- Excessive bleeding requiring a suction abortion
- Incomplete expulsion of fetal parts
- Blood clots
- Uterine infection requiring antibiotics
Even among women who do not get the most severe complications, most will suffer the following symptoms:
- Severe and persistent long-term pain
- Persistent high fever
- Heavy bleeding that fills 2 or more maxi pads for several days/weeks in a row
- Strong vaginal odor
- Continuing pregnancy symptoms
What to Do If You’re Considering Chemical Abortion
If you are considering any type of abortion, including chemical abortion, there are several steps you need to take:
- First, you need to confirm that you are pregnant. You can set an appointment with ACPC for a free pregnancy test. The test and your results are completely confidential.
- Second, if your pregnancy test is positive you need an ultrasound to confirm whether your pregnancy is viable. Up to 30% of pregnancies will miscarry before your baby is able to survive outside the womb. ACPC offers free ultrasounds to confirm whether your baby is alive and developing properly for his or her gestational age.
- Third, you will need free options counseling to get scientifically accurate information on all of your pregnancy options — abortion, adoption, and parenting. Unlike abortion clinics, ACPC is a nonprofit organization that does not provide or refer for abortions. This means we are free to give you the complete information you need to make an informed decision.
If you’re dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, or suspect you may be pregnant, contact us for a free, confidential appointment. We understand the emotions you’re feeling and the difficult decisions you’re facing, and that’s why we’re here to help.