Medical Abortion “The Pill”

What is Medical Abortion?

A medical abortion is achieved by using medication.  Women’s Health Center uses Mifeprex©, which you may know as “RU-486”.  For more information about Mifeprex©, go to the Danco website at  A medical abortion is similar to an early miscarriage and is done at home.  Medical abortions may be used by women who are 10 weeks pregnant or less, counting from the first day of your last period.

How does it work?

Mifeprex© blocks a vital hormone from reaching the pregnancy, ceasing development.  A second medication, Cytotec© causes the uterus to expel the pregnancy.

How safe are medical abortions using Mifeprex©?

Although Mifeprex© is relatively new to the United States, it has been used by millions of women worldwide for over 15 years.  Complications are rare, with the most common being excessive bleeding and nausea.

What is the procedure?

You will come to the clinic for a medical work-up, meet with the nurse who will discuss your medical history, information about the procedure and future contraception.  Your work-up will include a pregnancy test, lab work to determine your Rh-blood factor and an ultrasound to determine the weeks of the pregnancy.  If the ultrasound determines that your pregnancy is beyond the 8 week limit of a medical abortion, you will be given information about surgical abortion. After your medical work-up, you will meet with a Patient Educator for information about the procedure and to discuss your decision.  Then you will meet with the physician to take the Mifeprex©.  You can count on being at the clinic for 4-6 hours.

Twenty-four to forty-eight hours later, you will take the second medication Cytotec© at home, which will bring on cramping and bleeding. In most cases, the abortion is complete within 8 hours.  You must return to the clinic within 2 weeks for a second ultrasound to be sure the procedure is complete.

What can I expect during the abortion?  Will it hurt?

During the abortion process you may have heavy bleeding and nausea, strong cramping and you will pass clots, some of which may be quite large.  You will be given pain medication to help with the cramping and nausea. The amount and intensity of cramping varies from woman to woman. Most women who have used this procedure describe it as similar to a bad menstrual period.  We encourage you to have a support person on hand and to arrange for daycare if you have young children at home.  After the abortion, you may continue to have some bleeding for several weeks.  Usually this is quite light and will not interfere with your normal activities.

What are the pros and cons of a medical abortion vs. a surgical abortion?

  • If you are disturbed by the sight of blood or the idea of strong cramping, a medical abortion may not be the right option for you.
  • A medical abortion is a process.  It may take several days to complete and you must return to our clinic for a second appointment.
  • A surgical abortion is done at the clinic by a licensed physician.  A medical abortion will happen in the privacy of your home with the support person of your chioce.
  • In rare instance (<2%), a medical abortion will fail to terminate the pregnancy.  If this happens, you must have a surgical abortion to complete the procedure.  There would be no additional charge for this if it is done at WHC.
  • A medical abortion can be done earlier in the pregnancy than a surgical abortion.

What else should I know?

  • Women are seen by appointment only.  You can usually get an appointment within a week of calling.  All appointments and patient information are kept strictly confidential.
  • Payment is due in full at the time of service.
  • If you are under the age of 18, please call the clinic for information regarding the MN Parental Notification Law.
  • When you arrive for your appointment, you may encounter protesters.  You have the legal right to choose to terminate your pregnancy.  The protesters do not have the right to harass you, physically touch or restrain you, or block your vehicle or yourself in any way.  Please call 911 if they are doing any of these things and report this to WHC staff.   Please try to ignore them as best you can.  WHC escorts wearing clearly marked vests will accompany and assist you in  entering the building.  To minimize contact, try to have your driver drop you in the loading zone directly in front of the Building for Women.  See diagram and maps in Location.

What to Bring on the Day of Your Appointment

  • A first morning urine sample in a clean jar or other covered container.
  • A photo ID with your date of birth on it.
  • Your insurance information, cash, or a Visa or MasterCard.  WHC can not accept personal checks.
  • Any forms you receive in the mail from WHC.
  • Light snacks and something to do during periods of waiting.
  • You may bring one support person with you, if you wish. They will also need to bring photo ID with date of birth.  You will need to arrange for daycare if you have young children.
  • If you are under 18, bring all materials necessary to satisfy MN Statute 144.34.  Information regarding this law will be given to you when you make your appointment.