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  • Writer's pictureDoctors for Choice

Abortion with Pills

Updated: Aug 15, 2020

It is common for anti-abortion propaganda to portray abortion as some barbaric procedure that involves chopping up fetuses in the womb. This is clearly intended to mislead the public and overly dramatise the discussion around abortion. The vast majority of abortions (around 71%) do not involve any direct procedure at all, and simply involve the woman taking two pills - Mifepristone and Misoprostol.

According to the World Health Organisation, abortion pills can be used at home in many cases in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and statistics from England and Wales in 2018 show that 80% of abortions happened in the first 10 weeks.

Mifepristone is a medication that blocks the natural hormone progesterone. It softens the cervix and makes abortion easier. The usual dosing is 200mg when used in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and it should be followed 24-48 hours later by Misoprostol. In rare occasions, the drug Methotrexate is used instead of Mifepristone.

Misoprostol is a medication that causes contractions of the uterus and ejects the pregnancy. The contractions are experienced as strong cramps accompanied by bleeding, similar to a heavy menstruation. Misoprostol is usually administered at a dose of 800mcg, which can be repeated until miscarriage occurs. Misoprostol can terminate a pregnancy on its own, but it is usually preceded by Mifepristone to make the abortion easier.

The combined use of Mifepristone and Misoprostol is 99% effective at terminating the pregnancy, whereas Misoprostol on its own has a 92-98% success rate. The use of abortion pills is generally regarded to be very safe, but incomplete removal of the pregnancy or heavy bleeding are possible complications that would require women to seek medical help.

In places where abortion is illegal, such as Malta, women are known to still access the pills and self-administer them safely as long as the pills are obtained from a bona-fide source and the women are given accurate information on how to use them. In countries where abortion is legal, abortion pills are increasingly being purchased for self-use because women may prefer to have an abortion in the privacy of their own home.

Although we cannot recommend them due to legal issues, it is a known fact that women order abortion pills online from the organisations 'Women on Web' and 'Women Help Women.' Please remember that taking abortion pills to end a pregnancy whilst in Malta is illegal.


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