The Availability and Use of Medicine Abortion

This factsheet was up to date on March twentieth, 2024 to mirror coverage updates and new knowledge.

On June 24th, 2022, the Supreme Courtroom dominated on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Group, overturning Roe v. Wade. States can now set their very own insurance policies defending or banning abortion with none federal customary defending entry to abortion. This has created a brand new give attention to medicine abortion as an possibility for increasing entry to folks going through obstacles to abortion care.

Medicine abortion, also called medical abortion or abortion with tablets, is a being pregnant termination protocol that entails taking two completely different medication, Mifepristone and misoprostol, that may be safely used as much as the primary 70 days (10 weeks) of being pregnant in accordance with the Information-patients-and-providers/mifeprex-mifepristone-Information“>U.S. Meals and Drug Administration (FDA).  The World Health Group has licensed use as much as 12 weeks of being pregnant. For the reason that FDA first Information-patients-and-providers/mifeprex-mifepristone-Information“>accredited the drug in 2000, its use in america has rapidly grown. In 2023, 63% of abortions within the US have been medicine abortions. The medicine abortion drug routine accredited by the FDA is out there in lots of states throughout the nation, nonetheless, meting out these tablets for the aim of terminating a being pregnant is now banned in some states. This factsheet supplies an summary of medicine abortion, how IT is used and controlled, the function of the drug in self-managed abortions, and an evaluation of the intersection of federal and state rules pertaining to its provision and protection.

What’s a Medicine Abortion?

There are two medicine abortion regimens which have an extended security and efficacy report: mifepristone with misoprostol and misoprostol alone. Each contain taking oral medications to terminate a being pregnant.   

Mifepristone and Misoprostol Routine

The most typical medicine abortion routine in america entails using two completely different medicines: mifepristone and misoprostol. Mifepristone, also called the abortion tablet, or RU-486 is offered underneath the model title Mifeprex and thru a generic manufactured by GenBioPro in america. Mifepristone works by blocking progesterone, a hormone important to the event of a being pregnant, and thereby stopping an present being pregnant from progressing. Misoprostol, taken 24–48 hours after mifepristone, works to empty the uterus by inflicting cramping and bleeding, much like an early miscarriage. A follow-up go to may be scheduled every week or two later, to substantiate that the being pregnant was terminated by way of ultrasound or blood check. The FDA has discovered that medicine abortion is a protected and extremely efficient technique of being pregnant termination. When taken, medicine abortion efficiently terminates the being pregnant 99.6% of the time, with a 0.4% threat of main problems, and an related mortality rate of lower than 0.001 p.c (0.00064%).

The FDA first accredited Mifeprex in 2000. In 2016, the FDA up to date and accredited a brand new evidence-based routine and drug label. This routine approves use of medical abortions for as much as 70 days (10 weeks) of being pregnant (Desk 1). Till 2019, mifepristone was solely offered underneath the model title Mifeprex, manufactured by Danco Laboratories. In 2019, the FDA accredited GenBioPro, Inc.’s software for generic mifepristone. In 2021, the FDA announced they might not implement the in-person meting out requirement that had been in impact for the reason that approval of mifepristone. With the brand new REMS in 2023, the in-person meting out requirement was formally eliminated.

Misoprostol-Solely Routine

Whereas the mixed routine of mifepristone and misoprostol for medicine abortion is advisable, there’s a second medicine abortion protocol utilizing misoprostolsolely that’s extra generally used internationally and at the moment not accredited by the FDA. The routine can also be advisable for as much as 70 days (10 weeks) of pregnancy. IT entails taking 800 µg (4 tablets) of misoprostol sublingually or vaginally each three hours for a complete of 12 tablets. Analysis has proven the misoprostol-only routine to be a safe and highly effective technique of being pregnant termination, nonetheless IT could end in a higher incidence of uncomfortable side effects, significantly diarrhea, fever and chills. When taken, the misoprostol-only routine efficiently terminates the being pregnant roughly 80-100% of the time, with a complication price of lower than 1%. Some U.S. telehealth organizations have been offering the misoprostol-only routine as an possibility for medication abortion for a number of years.  

Danger Analysis and Mitigation Methods (REMS)

In 2011, the FDA added a Danger Analysis and Mitigation Technique (REMS) to the meting out necessities for mifepristone allowing solely medical suppliers who had obtained certification from the producer to prescribe and immediately dispense the drug. This requirement has had the impact of limiting the variety of clinicians in a position to prescribe medicine abortions, but in addition necessitated an in-person go to to a Health Care setting and meant sufferers couldn’t get hold of the medicine from a retail pharmacy or by mail.

On December 16, 2021, the Information-patients-and-providers/mifeprex-mifepristone-Information“>FDA eliminated the in-person meting out requirement for mifepristone and expanded the distribution to incorporate licensed pharmacies along with licensed clinicians. This transformation eliminated the requirement to dispense the medicine in individual and expanded the chance for telehealth in states that haven’t banned abortion. Regardless of the change to the in-person requirement, prescribers are nonetheless required to be licensed by the producers. On January 3, 2023, the FDA accredited a protocol for pharmacies, permitting these which have been licensed by the producers to dispense mifepristone on to sufferers. In March 2024, two major pharmacy chains within the U.S. introduced that they had develop into licensed to dispense mifepristone and would begin meting out the medicine to sufferers in sure states later that month. Desk 2 reveals the change in REMS from 2011 to 2023.

State Laws and Availability

State legal guidelines that ban or prohibit abortion apply to medicine abortion simply as they apply to abortion procedures. There are at the moment massive swaths of the nation, principally within the South and Midwest that ban abortion. Although the federal FDA has accredited mifepristone as protected and efficient, following the Dobbs choice, the provision of medicine abortion at present is determined by state legal guidelines. Even earlier than the Dobbs choice, nonetheless, some states restricted entry to medicine abortion both by blocking using telehealth abortions by mandating in-person visits for abortions, imposing necessities for in-person meting out, or limiting the sorts of clinicians who may dispense the tablets (solely allowing MDs to dispense). In lots of states these legal guidelines are actually outdated by state legal guidelines that ban abortion.

There are two challenges in federal court docket to abortion prohibitions and restrictions on federal preemption grounds. The maker of a generic mifepristone medicine, GenBioPro, Inc., is difficult West Virginia’s total abortion ban, and an ob-gyn, Dr. Bryant, is difficult the abortion restrictions in North Carolina, which embody necessities that Mifepristone be disbursed in person by a doctor after state-mandated counseling session and a 72-hour waiting period. In each circumstances, plaintiffs argue that the FDA’s authorization and regulation of Mifepristone preempt state regulation banning using the medicine or regulating its use extra strictly, and given this, enforcement of the state legal guidelines ought to be blocked.

There are different ways in which state legal guidelines additionally have an effect on use of and entry to medicine abortion. Some states require that sufferers be recommended about unsubstantiated claims concerning the capability to reverse an abortion after mifepristone is ingested. For instance, Nebraska, a state that hasn’t banned abortion, requires sufferers to be counselled that medicine abortion could also be reversed if given a excessive dose of progesterone after taking mifepristone—regardless of a lack of scientific evidence to assist this declare. Equally, Utah requires counseling that mifepristone alone will not be at all times efficient in ending a being pregnant and that sufferers should have a viable being pregnant after taking mifepristone regardless of its report of effectiveness. Previous to banning abortion ArkansasIdahoKentucky,  OklahomaSouth Dakota had related necessities. Research demonstrates that APCs, reminiscent of nurse practitioners, doctor assistants, or nurse-midwives, can present medicine abortion as safely as physicians can, however they’re solely permitted to take action in 21 states and DC out of the 36 states the place abortion will not be at the moment banned.


Telehealth can be utilized to develop entry to Health companies in areas the place the variety of clinicians who present abortion care is proscribed. Many sufferers, significantly those that dwell in rural communities, should journey lengthy distances to acquire abortion companies even in states the place abortion continues to be permitted, which has raised curiosity within the potential of telehealth to develop entry medicine abortion. As a result of the up to date FDA label now permits for telehealth, mifepristone has emerged as an possibility for sufferers who’re both unable to journey to clinic or for different causes want to have an abortion within the privateness of their very own residence, if permitted by state regulation.

As a part of efforts to restrict abortion entry, some states have taken motion to dam using telehealth for abortion. Among the many states that haven’t banned abortion, twelve states have no less than one restriction that requires no less than one journey to the clinic, and successfully ban telehealth for medicine abortion (Determine 1).


In accordance with a current study, the median self-pay price for medicine abortion considerably elevated from $495 in 2017 to $560 in 2020. Though Danco Laboratories doesn’t make the price of Mifeprex public, providers report that Mifeprex tablets alone price them round $90 a tablet. GenBioPro, the producer of the generic mifepristone drug additionally doesn’t report the price of their tablet however has acknowledged that they wish to drive down prices for many who select medicine abortion. Personal insurance coverage protection of abortion companies is variable and is determined by the kind of insurance coverage plan, the coverage holder’s state of residence, and employer protection choices. Federal Medicaid funding solely pays for abortions when the being pregnant is a results of rape or incest or a risk to the pregnant individual’s life. Seventeen states have opted to make use of their very own state funds to pay for abortions, together with medicine abortions, for Medicaid enrollees. For individuals who do not need abortion protection, there are restricted means of economic assist, promoted on each Danco and GenBioPro’s web site. The National Abortion Federation, in addition to local abortion funds are generally in a position to cowl a number of the price of an abortion (together with journey) for a pregnant individual. Outdoors of those funding sources or a sliding price scale clinic, there are few choices to assist with abortion prices.


Though the general price of abortion has declined over the previous twenty years, using medicine abortion as a share of all abortions has enormously elevated through the years. In accordance with Danco Laboratories, by 2016, over 2.75 million women in america had used Mifeprex since its FDA approval in 2000. Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) present medicine abortions have increased steadily over the previous 15 years. A Guttmacher Institute report discovered that medicine abortion accounted for 63% of all nonhospital abortions in 2023, though that is seemingly an undercount since IT doesn’t embody self-managed abortions.

Self-Managed Abortion

Self-managed abortion, generally referenced as “self-induced” or “at-home” abortion, is when an individual ends a being pregnant outdoors the medical care setting, usually by ordering abortion tablets on-line. Sufferers could search to handle their very own abortion for a lot of causes, together with state bans, clinic entry barriers, price, transportation, time limitations, and privateness. There are completely different medicine protocols that can be utilized for a self-managed abortion. As detailed on this JAMA review, a person can take the FDA-approved medicine abortion routine of mifepristone and misoprostol tablets or misoprostol tablets alone.

There are a variety of corporations that supply self-managed abortion companies utilizing completely different approaches. Some corporations have a clinician that opinions a buyer’s medical Information and will have a telehealth go to. Different corporations, reminiscent of AidAccess primarily based outdoors america, will mail abortion medicines to a person with out requiring a clinician go to. Plan C Capsules operates an internet site that gives a listing of on-line retailers in each state and contains Information about clinician involvement, value, ship time, product high quality, in addition to Information about the right way to take the medication and assets for financing help. Costs differ between corporations, however usually prices are decrease than common prices for a clinic abortion as there’s usually no involvement with a brick and mortar clinic. One 2017 examine discovered the median cost of mifepristone-misoprostol merchandise ordered on-line is roughly $205.

Self-managed abortions have occurred all over the world for years, significantly in areas the place abortion entry within the medical care system has been restricted. Earlier than the FDA eliminated the REMS requirement for in individual meting out of medicine abortion, entry to telemedicine abortion care (both by means of the medical system or self-managed) was extraordinarily restricted in america. Curiosity in self-managed abortion has grown lately in america, significantly for the reason that Dobbs choice. For instance, research has documented a pointy enhance in requests for abortion tablets to the corporate AidAccess for the reason that Dobbs ruling, rising from a mean of 82.6 requests every day earlier than the ruling to 213.7/day after IT was issued, with the biggest will increase in states which have banned abortion.

None of the present state abortion bans or restrictions criminalize pregnant folks for acquiring self-managed abortions, but there have been many documented cases of individuals going through legal prices for self-managing an abortion. Some states impose legal penalties on clinicians or others who assist a person get hold of abortion companies. These insurance policies can create a local weather of concern associated to self-managed abortion for each sufferers and clinicians, as an example if a affected person have been to current to a clinician for a complication or comply with up care after a self-managed abortion. Some main medical and public Health teams reminiscent of Information/policy-and-position-statements/position-statements/2022/opposition-to-the-criminalization-of-self-managed-abortion”>ACOG, AMA, and Health-Coverage-Statements/Coverage-Database/2022/01/07/Decriminalization-of-and-Assist-for-Self-Managed-Abortion”>APHA oppose any criminalization of sufferers that search self-managed abortion.


The usage of medicine abortion has grown considerably since its approval by the FDA in 2000. The FDA replace of the REMS in 2023 has expanded the provision of medicine abortion and broadened using telehealth meting out. Nevertheless, state abortion bans, particular bans on telehealth for medicine abortion, and state-level necessities for in-person dispensation of mifepristone and for in-person counseling visits and ultrasounds that aren’t medically advisable will proceed to limit entry in lots of states.


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