Are at-home abortions, or “medical abortions,” safe? Unfortunately, there is no easy yes or no answer to that question.
Like many things in life, we want easy solutions to our problems. Ending an unwanted pregnancy with a medical at-home abortion may seem like the solution to your problem. But is it? What risks and potential consequences are you willing to take?
WHAT TO CONSIDER FIRST
First, consultation is required with an abortion provider. Ideally this is an in-person visit, but since the pandemic, telehealth consultations have been approved and in some states the medication can be received through mail order pharmacies.
How far along are you?
Medical abortions need be done when a pregnancy is no more than 10 weeks (70 days or less since your last menstrual period).
An ultrasound needs to be done to determine fetal age and viability.
Is the pregnancy in the uterus, or is there an ectopic pregnancy? An ectopic pregnancy will not be expelled with medication and needs emergency medical attention. Are you receiving an ultrasound before beginning the abortion?
ABOUT THE MEDICAL ABORTION PILLS
The first pill taken in the office or at home, is mifepristone. This pill contains a drug that blocks the blood supply and nutrients needed to maintain a pregnancy. Cramping occurs as the lining of the uterus breaks down and is expelled through the vagina.
The second pill, misoprostol, is taken at home, 24-48 hours later. This causes the uterus to contract, producing heavy bleeding to expel the embryo. You will not be able to do your normal daily activities during this time and will need a place to rest. This step may take two to three days to work. If it doesn’t work, an additional dose or a surgical procedure (D&C) may be needed. The further along a pregnancy is, the greater chance of the uterus not completely emptying.
You will need to make a second visit to your abortion provider 7-14 days later to be sure the abortion is complete, there are no signs of infection, and that you are healing properly.
A medical abortion isn’t an option if you have certain medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart, lung, kidney disease. If you have an IUD in place. If you have bleeding or clotting disorders or take blood thinners. If you have uncontrolled diabetes or an allergy to the medications being used.
After you take the medication, it will cause abdominal cramping and heavy bleeding. It may also cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, headache, and weakness.
Other warning signs you need to be aware of that require medical attention are heavy bleeding, passing large clots and soaking through two more sanitary pads in two hours, severe abdominal or back pain, fever, foul vaginal odor, loss of consciousness. These may occur due to infection or an incomplete abortion. Emergency care needs to be available and accessible during this procedure.
LIFE’S CHOICES IS HERE FOR YOU
Facing an unwanted pregnancy is never easy. Is a medical abortion safe and the answer for you? Consider carefully the medical and emotional risks as well as the long-term impact of your choice. Be certain, and don’t be pressured into a decision. Know your options.
Life’s Choices is here to listen to you and to help you sort through your options. We offer pregnancy confirmation ultrasound and information on pregnancy options. All our services are free and confidential. If you’re looking for more information or someone to talk to about your decision, we welcome you to contact us today. We’re here for you, and you’re not alone.
Disclaimer: Life’s Choices is not an abortion clinic. Life’s Choices does not benefit financially from your pregnancy decision. Life’s Choices does not provide prenatal medical care, birth control, emergency contraception or abortions. We do not refer for emergency contraception or abortions.