Developed in 1980 and approved for use in the United States in 2000, “the abortion pill” is really two pills — Mifepristone, also known as RU-486, combined with a second drug, Misoprostol, taken 24 to 48 hours later.
When used during the first trimester they are considered a safe, effective and private method, and they account for a steadily increasing percentage of abortions in the US. “About half of the patients I take care of opt for a medication abortion,” Perritt says.
However, says Dr. Gillian Dean, senior director of medical services at Planned Parenthood, “it is not a solution for everyone.” That is because “it is only used until 10 or 11 weeks, at which point a lot of women don’t even know they are pregnant – teens with irregular periods, obese women who don’t notice weight gain. It also can’t be used by some women with certain underlying medical problems.”