Safe Abortion Using Pills

The contents of this webpage are for informational purposes only. All information is from Women on Waves, a Dutch foundation associated with the international abortion fund Women on Web, a member of the National Network of Abortion Funds. If you have any questions about this information, please contact [email protected]

Click aquí para encontrar información en español. 

Using medication to end an unwanted pregnancy in the US:

In the U.S., abortion is legal in every state. However, it is a crime in some states to induce an abortion if you did not get the medication (mifepristone, misoprostol) from a doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or nurse midwife who is authorized to provide these medicines. It is also a crime in some states to help someone to get the abortion pills if a person is not a licensed medical clinician. The penalty for this depends on which state a person lives in, but can carry serious fines and prison sentences.

How can I have a safe abortion with pills?

In countries where abortion is legal, two medications, mifepristone and misoprostol, are available from doctors and are 95-98% effective in safely ending an unwanted pregnancy up to 12 weeks. The service is provided in clinics and is extremely safe.

Misoprostol alone is also very safe and is 80-85% effective in ending an early unwanted pregnancy (up to 12 weeks). In Mexico and many other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, misoprostol is available over the counter (without a prescription) in pharmacies. It is generally used for ulcers and for arthritis.

How are the pills used?

Here is information in English about how pills are used. (Aquí para encontrar información en español.)

How many misoprostol pills are needed?

Someone less than 12 weeks pregnant will need 12 tablets of 200 mcg each. In Mexico it is typically necessary to buy the full bottle/box of 28 tablets because pharmacists usually are not allowed to open the prepacked box or bottle.

What happens if after taking pills it feels necessary to go to a doctor or a hospital?

Misoprostol causes a miscarriage. The symptoms of a miscarriage and an abortion with pills are EXACTLY the same and the treatment is EXACTLY the same. Going to the doctor does not require sharing information about whether or not a patient took the medication, and in places where it is illegal to take abortion medication, telling a doctor about taking abortion medication can result in legal consequences. If taken as instructed at Women on Waves, the medication dissolves and there is no test that can tell a doctor or nurse that the medicine was taken. In every hospital in the world, doctors know how to treat a miscarriage or a complication from a miscarriage.

It is important to remember that in many states in the US, causing an abortion by yourself is a crime. Any person who knows someone used abortion medication might feel obliged to report it.

Where can I get misoprostol?

There are many Internet sites that claim to sell misoprostol or mifepristone. The majority of these are scams; they do not send genuine medication. Here is a partial list of sites known to be scams; however this is only a partial list. New scam sites are posted on the Internet every week to exploit people who are desperate to end an unwanted pregnancy.

In Mexico, how is misoprostol sold?

In many states along the Mexican border, misoprostol, also called Cytotec, is sold in flea markets, bodegas and on the black market. It is very important to be sure you are getting genuine pills. Try to buy the medication in original packaging; do not buy loose pills. Click here for a picture of misoprostol.

In Mexico, misoprostol is available in most larger pharmacies. It is sold under several names, and the price for each brand varies. There are two large chains of pharmacies. In Farmacias Similares, misoprostol is sold under the brand name Cyrux. In Farmacias del Ahorro, it is sold as Misoprostol.

In Mexico and other countries in Latin America, prescriptions are not required for most medicine available in pharmacies. Therefore it is possible to buy misoprostol over the counter. In many cases, the pharmacist will not ask why a person wants to buy the medicine. If the pharmacist asks, some people say it’s for their mother’s ulcers or grandmother’s arthritis. If a pharmacy will not sell the misoprostol to a person, they might try a different pharmacy.

The cost for a box or bottle of 28 pills ranges from US $35 to $127, depending on the brand.

  • Misoprostol – 420 pesos, $35 US
  • Cyrux – 500 pesos, $42 US
  • Tomisprol – 890 pesos, $75 US
  • Cytotec – 1500 pesos, $127 US

Make sure to buy a sealed box or package.

Is it necessary to speak Spanish?

Many pharmacies can provide medication if they can refer to the name written on a piece of paper.


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