Some women hoping to terminate their pregnancy quickly and privately obtain the abortion pill online. While convenient, though, this practice endangers women’s health by skipping crucial steps in the abortion pill process in place to protect their safety. For this reason, even though the abortion pill is available for purchase online, it is not recommended to obtain the drugs in this way.
What Is the Abortion Pill?
The abortion pill is really two different medications that make up what is also referred to as medical abortion. Mifepristone, the first drug, is taken to block the hormone progesterone to keep it from further supporting the pregnancy. Without progesterone, the embryo or fetus detaches from the wall of the uterus. Misoprostol, the second drug, is then taken to start uterine contractions, which expel the pregnancy from the woman’s body with cramping and vaginal bleeding.
Safety Measures Bypassed in Online Abortion
Before using the abortion pill method, women should undergo an in-person physical with the provider, be given an ultrasound, complete blood and urine testing, and understand the procedure’s risks. Each step is essential but usually skipped when a woman acquires the abortion pill online.
Why Is an Ultrasound Needed?
Ultrasounds provide valuable information in pregnancy regardless of the outcome a woman has chosen. As a pre-abortion screening tool, ultrasound determines the pregnancy’s viability, date, and location.
- Viability: since around 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, it is essential to verify that the pregnancy is viable before undergoing a medical abortion. Miscarriages do not always require intervention, but will need to be monitored by a physician to ensure there are no complications.
- Date: the abortion pill has only been FDA-approved for pregnancies up to 10 weeks. Ultrasound can determine how far along a pregnancy is to ensure it is eligible for the abortion pill.
- Location: the abortion pill is ineffective for terminating ectopic pregnancy, a condition in which the embryo implants outside the uterus. This is a life-threatening condition for the woman and requires immediate treatment for her safety. Ultrasound locates the embryo or fetus to ensure the pregnancy is not ectopic.
FDA Warns Women Against Online Purchase of the Abortion Pill
While the FDA regulates drugs for the safety of U.S. citizens, they are unable to regulate drugs purchased online. This means that drugs bought online may be the wrong dose, expired or even mislabeled. Purchasing the abortion pill online poses a risk to women’s safety.