The Journal, University of Illinois at Springfield Weekly Campus Newspaper

New abortion pill hits market soon

November 17, 2009
By Laurel Bollinger

Different than the morning after pill or Plan B, Planned Parenthood now has available at most locations the Abortion Pill, also known as mifepristone.

According to Planned Parenthood’s website, this new pill is considered a medical abortion.  It can end an early pregnancy and can be used up to 9 weeks, or 63 days after the first day of a woman’s last period. 

It has a 97 out of 100 success rate but the organization suggests following up with your health care provider to make sure it worked.  Despite the high success rate, they warn that if the pregnancy does continue that the medication could case serious birth defects. 

They recommend having an aspiration abortion to end the pregnancy if the pill does not work. An aspiration abortion is non-surgical procedure where a thin tube is used to suction or vacuum the contents out of the uterus through the cervix. 

The Abortion Pill requires three steps with two medicinal doses.  The pill causes the pregnancy to terminate and then it releases the contents.  This release of the fetus is caused by a second medicine called misoprostol.  Misoprostol causes heavy bleeding and cramps and is likened to how an early miscarriage would feel.  The third step is a follow-up within two weeks to determine if the abortion is completed. 

Of course, the Abortion Pill comes with risks and in some cases can be fatal.  However, Planned Parenthood states that a medical abortion reduces that risk compared to a surgical abortion. 

Their website lists several reasons why women chose the Abortion Pill including the claim that, “many women feel it’s more ‘natural’—they feel it is more like miscarriage.”  They also say women feel more control and that it is less invasive as well as more private because it allows them to do it at home.

The Abortion Pill differs from emergency contraception because emergency contraception (known also as the morning after pill, Plan B, or backup birth control) is only to be used up to five days after unprotected sex. 

The Abortion Pill costs between $350-$650. Vice President of External Affairs for Planned Parenthood Beth Kanter said that while this is high, it is simply what the medication costs.  “Pharmaceuticals are expensive and it is comparable to the cost of a surgical abortion.” 

Planned Parenthood of Springfield will be receiving the Abortion Pill sometime between January and March of next year. 

As with most contraceptive devices, the Abortion Pill has its detractors who would rather not see it come to Springfield.

The Springfield Right to Life group has several pamphlets outlining the dangers of mifepristone or RU-486.  One is the amount of bleeding that occurs due to the pill.  One pamphlet states that 13,000 to 26,000 women a year could suffer complications due to the drug and could result in losing a substantial amount of blood.

The pamphlets also detail the experience of the medical abortion with one saying that: “When the woman finally does abort, she will expel a tiny dead human being.”  This could be traumatic for a woman hoping to have the quiet, private, and comfortable abortion in her own home. 

They also address the cost of the medicine and point out that if the medical abortion doesn’t work, a surgical one is necessary and will also cost between $350-$900 and will be much more invasive.

A worker at the Springfield office who asked not to be named said that her concern is what the long-term effects of this pill will be because it will take 10-15 years for long-term results to be apparent.  She fears that young girls using this pill now may find that they won’t be able to conceive when they decide the time is right down the road. 

As stated earlier, Planned Parenthood does address several of these issues on their website, outlining what the possible risks are including: allergic reaction to the pill, infection, very heavy bleeding, and an incomplete abortion. 

The group also outlines the warning signs of serious complications, including vomiting for more than four to six hours, a high fever that lasts longer than 4 hours, clots larger than a lemon and excessive heavy bleeding.  They suggest calling your health care provider immediately if any of these symptoms occur.  A more complete list is on their website.

For more information on the abortion pill or services that Planned Parenthood provides, please go to   And for more information about or from the Springfield Right to Life society please visit their website at


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