MEDICATION ABORTIONS: A First Trimester Medical Abortion is performed between 4-13 weeks after your last menstrual period. A Medical Abortion is also referred to as a "medication or chemical abortion" or "The Abortion Pill.”
"The Abortion Pill" - RU486 (Mifeprex/Mifepristone)
This chemical form of abortion is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in women up to 49 days after their last menstrual period; however, it is commonly used “off label” up to 63 days. This procedure usually requires three office visits. On the first visit, the woman is given pills (mifepristone) that cause the death of the embryo. Two days later, and providing the abortion has not occurred, she is given a second drug (misoprostol) which causes cramping to expel the embryo. The last visit is to determine if the procedure has been completed.
Risks Associated with RU-486; Abortion Pill (Mifeprex/Mifepristone)
Some vaginal bleeding after abortion is normal. However, if the cervix is torn or the uterus is punctured, there is a risk of severe bleeding known as hemorrhaging. When this happens, surgery or a blood transfusion may be required.
A bacterial infection may occur and lead to persistent fever over several days and extended hospitalization. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “Cases of serious bacterial infection, including very rare cases of fatal septic shock, have been reported.” Mifeprex users have died as a result of total body infection. A health advisory was issued in 2005 to ward users of the risk.
Incomplete or Failed Abortion...
Some fetal parts may have remained in the uterus after the abortion. Bleeding and infection may occur. RU486 fails in 8% of uses up to 49 days, 17% at 50-56 days and 23% at 57-63 days gestation. A surgical abortion is usually done to complete a failed medical abortion.
Undiagnosed Ectopic (Tubal) Pregnancy...
Typical medical or surgical abortions will not work in the case where an ectopic pregnancy lodges outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. If not diagnosed early, there can be a risk of the tube bursting, internal hemorrhage and death in some cases.
Continuation of Pregnancy...
While some abortion procedures fail and pregnancy continues, some women change their mind after beginning a chemical, medication abortion. In those situations, it is imperative to seek the help of an obstetrician immediately. In some instances, there has been success in reversing an RU-486 abortion.
Risk of Fetal Malformations...
In cases where chemical abortions fail and pregnancy continues, research associates the use of misoprostol during the first trimester with certain types of birth defects.
Risks Associated with Methotrexate:
- Mouth Ulcers
- Low White Blood Cell Count
- Abdominal Distress
- Decreased Resistance to Infection
In some cases:
- Bone Marrow Suppression
- Intestinal Toxicity
- Liver Toxicity
- Fatal Skin Reactions
This form of medication abortion uses only the second drug given in the RU-486 method. It is typically inserted vaginally, requires repeated doses and has a significantly higher failure rate than the full RU-486 method. It is associated with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and with potential birth defects (central nervous system and limb defects) in pregnancies that continue.