Pill vs. procedure:
How to decide

If you are earlier in pregnancy is, you may have the choice between having an abortion procedure and having a medication abortion. Every provider will have their own cutoff, but some may offer the pill through 13 weeks of pregnancy.

Both medication abortion and the abortion procedure are safe, legal, and effective. If you’re not sure which one will be better for you, here are a few things to consider.

Abortion procedure

Abortion procedure pros

  • The abortion procedure happens all in one place.

  • It’s 98 to 99% effective.

  • It’s quicker than medication abortion.

  • You can be sedated during the abortion.

  • If you’re not sedated, the painful part of the abortion usually only lasts five to ten minutes.

Abortion procedure cons

  • You usually can’t have anyone there with you in the room during the abortion procedure.

  • You will likely need someone to help get you home (and you definitely will if you’re being sedated, even if you’re going to take public transportation home).

  • A health care provider has to perform the abortion, which may be triggering for people with a history of medical or other trauma.

  • You will likely spend more time in the health center than if you had a medication abortion. You may have to wait in the waiting room for a while without knowing exactly when the abortion will take place.

Abortion pill

Abortion pill pros

  • The abortion happens at home, which may feel more private or comfortable.

  • You can have your partner, BFF, parent, or anyone you want there with you while the abortion happens. You can also do it without having a support person there if that works better for you.

  • It’s 87-98% effective, depending on how far along you are. Your provider may recommend a second dose of the medicine if you are further along in pregnancy. You will likely spend less time in person at a health center if you choose the abortion pill than if you choose the abortion procedure. In fact, many states allow you to get abortion pills online through telehealth.

  • You can have the abortion at a time that works for you and your schedule, like after work, while your kids are at school, or when your parents are at work.

  • The abortion pill may be less triggering for people with certain kinds of trauma.

  • It may feel more like a “natural” process for some people, because it’s a similar experience to an early miscarriage.

    Abortion pill cons

  • It takes longer for the abortion to finish happening with the abortion pill than with an abortion procedure, and the discomfort or pain can last several hours.

  • In rare cases, medication abortion doesn’t work, and you may need an extra dose of the second medication or an abortion procedure. This is more likely to happen if your pregnancy is more than 9 weeks along.

  • You need somewhere safe and comfortable where you can have your abortion, so it may not be a good option if you are unhoused or if you need to keep your abortion private from someone you live with.

  • There’s no option to be sedated with the abortion pill like there is with the abortion procedure.