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The UnRestrict Minnesota Guide to Medication Abortion

We all deserve the opportunity to live a safe, healthy, and fulfilling lifeand sometimes that can include having an abortion.

While this may bring up images of waiting rooms and doctors’ offices, it doesn’t have to. There is another safe, effective, common option to end a pregnancyone that can be done in the comfort of your own home: medication abortion. 

Medication abortion is an FDA-approved form of abortion care that has been used across the country safely for more than 20 years. Today, more than half of abortions in the United States are medication abortions.

The Basics: What is Medication Abortion (aka the “Abortion Pill”)?

A medication abortion consists of a combination of medications (mifepristone and misoprostol) that, when taken within a day or two of each other, cause one’s body to pass a pregnancy (some describe this experience as similar to a miscarriage). People who choose medication abortion typically experience a day of heavy bleeding and cramping, which is why it is best to plan to take the second medication in a comfortable and safe environment. 

This method of abortion is only available for those within their first trimester of pregnancy. It can sometimes be preferred to in-clinic abortion care because the process is private, non-invasive and provides the ability to have the abortion at home where one may be more comfortable. 

Side effects can include cramping, bleeding, and other flu-like symptoms. Medication abortion is over 98% effective, and in a small percentage of cases, may require an in-clinic aspiration if the pregnancy doesn’t end or if there is continued heavy bleeding. 

Since receiving FDA approval in 2000, medication abortion care has earned a track record as a safe, effective option for ending an early pregnancy. More than half of all abortions in Minnesota and across the country are now done with medication.

Decades of rigorous scientific and medical review have found medication abortion to have a safety record of over 99%higher than common, non-controversial medications like Tylenol or penicillin.

Know your pills

Medication Abortion


Medication abortion is a method of abortion care most commonly used to end an early pregnancy (up to 10-11 weeks). 

In the United States, the most common medication abortion protocol involves taking two types of prescription medication. Mifepristone blocks the flow of progesterone and misoprostol prompts the uterus to cramp and expel the pregnancy.

Emergency Contraception


Emergency contraception is a method of birth control used after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. It consists of a single progesterone/progestogen pill that prevents ovulation.

Emergency contraception is sometimes called the “morning-after pill” because it is more effective the sooner it’s taken. Ideally within the first 24-48 hours, sometimes (but never guaranteed) effective within 3 to 5 days, depending on the brand of EC.

Examples: Plan B (available over the counter), Ella (need a prescription)

Hormonal Birth Control


Birth control pills consist of a progesterone/progestin with estrogen for ongoing protection. Birth control is similar to the morning after pill in that it prevents ovulation and makes it more difficult for sperm to reach the egg should ovulation occur. 

Birth control pills are taken daily and, when used perfectly*, can be over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.

*A note about “perfectly”BC pills are most effective when taken on a strict schedule. Life can be messy and sometimes that just doesn’t work for everyone. Make sure to consult with your medical care provider about what type of birth control might be best for you.

Once someone has made the decision to have an abortion, they should be able to get the method of care that works best for them, including medication abortion. 

We deserve medical care supportive of our individual needs—and medication abortion allows us to make health care decisions based on our values, our unique circumstances, and other important and personal life considerations. 

How can I get a medication abortion?

At a Clinic

Even though abortion via medication is completed at home, it can be preceded by an in-person appointment at a clinic. These visits may last around four hours and consist of:

  • a conversation around how you are feeling;
  • ultrasound to confirm how far along into the pregnancy you are and to ensure medication abortion is still a good option;
  • instruction from the physician and/or medical team about the abortion and what to expect when the second medication, misoprostol, is taken at home;
  • the handing out of the first medication, mifepristone, which stops the pregnancy from progressing and starts the abortion.

You do not need a driver to accompany you to the appointment as no sedation is administered. Then, 24-48 hours later, the misoprostol is taken at home. This will empty your uterus and complete the abortion process. 

Medical providers often recommend a follow-up visit roughly two weeks after to check in on how you are feeling, both physically and mentally, and confirm (usually with an ultrasound) that the abortion was successful. 

Typically, you would contact an independent clinic (where the majority of abortions in the U.S. are provided), or a reproductive health clinic like Planned Parenthood, to schedule the appointment.


Medication abortion can also be accessed using telehealth services, which makes it possible for you to get the care you need without having to travel to an in-person office visit at a health center. 

Once an online provider has been chosen and an appointment has been made, you will undergo a brief virtual consultation with a medical provider and then receive the abortion medications in the mail.

Medication abortion via telehealth allows people to choose where they want to be and who they want by their side during their abortion. And, we know from research and real-world experience that when medication abortion is made available through telehealth, it is as safe as prescribing them in person, and helps people get the care they need sooner.

Self-Managed Abortion (SMA)

Self-managed abortion involves any action that is taken to end a pregnancy outside of the formal healthcare system, whether that be in-clinic or telehealth services, and could include self-sourcing medications; using herbs, plants, vitamins, or supplements. 

There are a range of resources functioning outside of the formal healthcare system to support people who are self-managing their abortions. These resources include hotlines staffed by clinicians, websites where people can get information and order medications, and emotional support services.

Some people who self-manage their abortions may turn to abortion doulas, herbalists, or members of their community. Some may also come into contact with clinicians functioning within the formal healthcare system before, during, or after their abortion.

While Self-Managed Abortion is not criminalized in Minnesota, people who go this route should exercise caution. The Repro Legal Helpline is a network of lawyers and advocates available to help folks navigating this option.

Stay Informed!

Join the millions of Minnesotans who agree everyone should have the power and ability to make healthy decisions about their own bodies, decide whether and when to become a parent, and raise healthy children in our communities if we decide to become parents.