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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What are the risks of taking the "abortion pill"?

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  • Children by Choice is a Brisbane based not-for-profit organisation providing pro-choice, all-options counselling, information and referrals Queensland-wide, for women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. We provide face-to … View Profile

    Mifepristone (sometimes refer to as the abortion pill) is a medication that blocks the effects of progesterone, which is needed to sustain a pregnancy. When used in combination with a prostaglandin in early pregnancy (up to 63 days from the first day of the last menstrual period (LMP)), mifepristone is a safe and effective pregnancy termination method. (D Grossman ‘Medical methods for first trimester abortion’ RHL The WHO Reproductive Health Library, World Health Organisation)

    In Australia, mifepristone is most commonly used in combination with a prostaglandin analogue called misoprostol. Misoprostol causes the uterus to contract and helps the pregnancy tissue to pass. It is important for women to be supported by a trained medical professional if wishing to have a medical abortion.

    Medical abortion is highly effective: Its 92–95% success rate is comparable to that of surgical abortion. It is also safe, as severe complications are extremely rare ( Medication Abortion Restrictions Burden Women and Providers—and Threaten U.S. Trend Toward Very Early Abortion, Heather D. Boonstra (Guttmacher Policy Review, Winter 2013, Volume 16, Number 1)

    Side effects, such as pain, cramping, and vaginal bleeding, result from the abortion process itself and are therefore expected with a medical abortion. Other side effects of the medications themselves may include nausea, vomiting, diarrheoa, chills or fever. On average women may expect to have bleeding and/or spotting for nine to sixteen days.

    Complications are rare but may include excessive vaginal bleeding requiring transfusion (occurs in approximately one in five hundred cases), incomplete abortion or ongoing pregnancy which requires a suction abortion.

    This information is intended as a guide only and womens experiences will vary. It should be noted that the procedure may vary at individual clinics, depending on the management and health care practices adopted by the medical director/s. If you have any questions or want more detail, speak to the clinic or GP you are considering attending for information about side effects.

    If you decide that abortion could be an option for you, it may be helpful to have as much information as possible to assist you in making this decision. For information on the clinic procedure, costs, clinic locations, what happens on the day, and how you might feel afterwards, visit

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