The Abortion Pill
Do you know the facts?
The abortion pill, mifegymiso, is now available in Canada. Some say it's safe and less invasive, but are those really the facts?
Fact 1: 1 in 7 women who take the abortion pill require medical attention due to hemorrhage.
Fact 2: Women commonly experience severe abdominal pain and nausea during a medical abortion.
Fact 3: The abortion pill has been found to have a rate of adverse events four times higher than surgical abortion.
How Does it Work?
The abortion pill, mifegymiso, is a combination of two pills. The first one, mifepristone, blocks progesterone. Progesterone is an important hormone for a healthy pregnancy. Without it, the developing child can no longer survive.
The second pill, misoprostol, causes contractions. Women who take the abortion pill commonly experience:
Painful cramping: mild to severe pain, more than typical period cramps (1). In one study, about half the women who took the abortion pill describe the abdominal pain as 'severe' (2).
Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (3,4)
Fainting and dizziness (3,4)
Bleeding can last for an average of 13-15 days, but ten percent of women still report bleeding after 30 days. (2)
Side Effects & Risks
When women are considering a medical procedure, they deserve to be informed. What are the risks of the abortion pill?
"Serious side effects can include death from sepsis, severe infection, and serious blood loss requiring transfusions."
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (5)
As many as 1 in 7 women experience hemorrhage (excessive bleeding) after taking the abortion pill, according to a 2019 study (6).
One of the most serious side effects of the abortion pill is septic shock (a life-threatening infection throughout the body). Eight women died in the U.S. from 2000-2018 due to septic shock after taking the abortion pill (5). In Canada, a woman died of septic shock in 2001 during clinical trials of the abortion pill (7).
Septic Shock & the Abortion Pill
"Women should be warned of this rare but potentially fatal adverse effect."
Canadian Medical Association Journal (7)
The abortion pill has been found to have a rate of adverse events four times higher than surgical abortion. (6)
If a woman has an ectopic pregnancy (where the embryo has implanted outside of the uterus), there can be serious complications which can be masked by the side effects of the abortion pill.
Symptoms of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy can seem the same as regular side effects of the abortion pill. That means that a woman who has taken the pill may not realize she has an ectopic pregnancy. A ruptured ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening medical emergency (8).
"During the abortion I was so unsure, scared, and uninformed. I took the abortion pill and was told it was going to be like a menstrual period. The truth was that I had cramps so severe I fainted multiple times and for hours I had the worst pain I had ever experienced."
"The pain was so intense... a nine out of ten on the pain scale. I tossed and turned in my bed for most of the night. I had no sleep but still had to go to work the next day, as though nothing was happening.
I stood before a classroom of professionals trying to do my job, while my body was preparing to abort my baby. I felt something coming out, a release of blood. I excused myself and hurried to the washroom. That’s where it happened. I was alone in a corporate bathroom when my baby was aborted."
"I went to the clinic on a Thursday afternoon and took my first pill. I was given prescription pills for the next day. It took about 30 minutes for the cramps and bleeding to start. I remember thinking, “OK, so this should be over in an hour or so.” But it wasn't.
The cramps got so bad I couldn't even move. I couldn't even cry. It was worse than anything I've ever seen on TV. All the labor and contractions they show was nothing compared to this. I couldn't get to my phone to dial 911 and go to the emergency room."
All testimonies shared with permission from Silent No More Awareness.
Local Support Resources
Need support with an unexpected pregnancy, or just need someone to talk to?
Trained volunteers at Sanctuary Outreach are available 24/7. Call or text the helpline at 519-803-0313 (Guelph & area) or visit sanctuaryoutreach.com.
If you're outside the Guelph area, visit choice42.com for a list of pregnancy help centers in your region.
If you have already taken the first dose of the abortion pill, you may still have a chance to reverse it if you regret your decision. The Abortion Pill Reversal 24/7 helpline or website can direct you to a doctor in your area who can help. Visit their website or call 1-888-612-3960.
Celopharma, Mifegymiso Patient Information Brochure. Accessed May 11, 2020. https://www.shorecentre.ca/wp-content/uploads/NEW-Mifegymiso-Information-Brochure-min.pdf
'Early Pregnancy Termination with Mifepristone and Misoprostol in the United States'. Irving M. Spitz, M.D., D.Sc., C. Wayne Bardin, M.D., Lauri Benton, M.D., and Ann Robbins, Ph.D. New England Journal of Medicine, 1998; 338:1241-1247. DOI: 10.1056/NEJM199804303381801. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199804303381801
Alberta College of Pharmacy, "New guidelines for dispensing Mifegymiso." July 12, 2017. Accessed May 11, 2020. https://abpharmacy.ca/articles/new-guidelines-dispensing-mifegymiso
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Mifeprex Medication Guide. Accessed May 11, 2020. www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/Drugsafety/ucm088643.pdf
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, "Mifepristone U.S. Postmarketing Adverse Events Summary Through 12/31/2018. Accessed May 2, 2020. https://www.fda.gov/media/112118/download
Niinimaki, M, et. al. "Immediate Complications After Medical Compared With Surgical Termination of Pregnancy." Obstetrics and Gynecology, October 2009. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19888037
Septic shock after medical abortions with mifepristone (Mifeprex, RU 486) and misoprostol, Sally Murray and Eric Wooltorton. CMAJ August 30, 2005 173 (5) 485; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.050980
Government of Canada, 'Health Canada approves updates to Mifegymiso prescribing information.' April 16, 2019. Accessed May 11, 2020. https://healthycanadians.gc.ca/recall-alert-rappel-avis/hc-sc/2019/69620a-eng.php