While some may have heard of abortion pills, not many are clear on how they work and where they can be obtained. Luckily, Plan C is here to help. Plan C is an organization of healthcare professionals, volunteers, and activists who share one common goal: to protect reproductive rights and personal choice through education, research, and advocacy. Thanks to Plan C, abortion pill access is increasing, the stigma surrounding medication abortions is changing, and more people feel empowered to make informed decisions that suit their needs, lifestyle, and values.
Although Plan C was not formally founded until 2015, the story behind the organization started in the 1990s, when founders, Elisa Wells and Francine Coeytaux were working to increase access to the morning-after pill in pharmacies as an over the counter medication. Then in 2016, the Plan C website was introduced and began sharing information on medication abortions with the public.
Researchers with the organization also began to gather data on pharmacies that were providing “abortion kits.” Thankfully, the organization grew, and its popularity spread, enabling those behind Plan C to reach more people. As businesses, including health clinics, began to temporarily close with the rise of the global COVID-19 epidemic, abortion pills became even more difficult to obtain. Plan C wasted no time in acting.
Members of Plan C reached out to medical providers throughout the United States, to see if they would consider utilizing telemedicine to meet with patients and ship the medications needed for medication abortions to the patients directly. Doing so increased access to abortion pills during an extremely crucial period for individuals everywhere.
But what exactly is medication abortion? Why are they important? And how do they work? Medication abortions are a safe, effective way to terminate a pregnancy. Medication abortion is less invasive than a traditional abortion and can be done safely within the comfort of one’s own home.
Visiting an abortion clinic and having a surgical abortion can cause an individual to feel emotional distress and uneasy. Using abortion pills is a great option for individuals who feel uncomfortable going to a clinic and receiving care.
The pills used to facilitate medication abortions are usually Mifepristone and Misoprostol; however, there are some instances where only Misoprostal is taken. The combination mifepristone and Misoprostol method is the most common way to obtain a medication abortion. First, the Mifepristone pill is taken.
Then twenty-four to forty-eight hours later, the Misoprostol pill is taken. This method has a 95-98% success rate and has fewer potential side effects than taking Misoprostol alone. Furthermore, this method is FDA-approved commonly provided by Planned Parenthood.
The second method, of taking only Misoprostol, is safe but has a lower effectiveness rating (85%). The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends this particular method for early abortion and when Mifepristone is unavailable.
How Does it Work?
With the combination method, the mifepristone inhibits the flow of progesterone, and this prevents the pregnancy from further developing. Meanwhile, Misoprostol works to induce cramps which help to expel the pregnancy. Together these pills work to essentially cause the body to miscarry. Heavy bleeding and cramping followed by days of lighter bleeding is normal and to be expected during the process.
It is also important to note that the earlier the pills are taken, the more effective they will be. Typically, medication abortion pills are most effective within the first eleven weeks of pregnancy. Taking the pills at a later time has an increased chance of complications and a decreased effectiveness rate.
While there are online pregnancy calculators that can help individuals identify how far into the pregnancy they are using information about their period, individuals can also choose to obtain an ultrasound or pelvic exam instead. Individuals who experience irregular periods may choose to visit the doctor to determine how far into their pregnancy they are.
Abortion Pill Cost
The cost of the pills can vary considerably depending on insurance coverage, where the pills are obtained, and any additional services the organization offering the services requires, such as blood tests. The cost and services obtainable may also depend on the region or state where an individual lives. For instance, in California, there are clinics that provide telehealth and can help individuals readily obtain abortion pills within two to three days for $150-$280, but the fee does not include any follow-up appointments or in-clinic care if the need should arise.
While there are less inexpensive services that do not require a provider consultation to obtain the pills, these services take longer to ship. These options may be best for those who would like to obtain the pills before they are needed; however, there is a window of time before the medications are ineffective.
Thanks to organizations like Plan C, medication abortion is becoming more widely discussed as are reproductive care options in general. Plan C and its team have worked extremely hard to protect reproductive rights and to offer individuals support through education, research, and continued campaigning. To learn more about abortion pills, where to access them, or more about Plan C and what they do, visit plancpills.org for additional information.
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