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What is the difference between emergency contraception and the abortion pill?


The two medications are very different.  Emergency contraception (also known as Plan B or the "Morning-After Pill") is high dose progesterone (a hormone which is also found in birth control pills).  It helps to prevent pregnancy by delaying ovulation or preventing an egg from implanting in the uterus.  If you take emergency contraception but become pregnant anyway, the medication does not harm the embryo, and if you choose to continue the pregnancy there is no higher risk of complications.


The abortion pill (also known as mifepristone, mifeprex, RU486, or medication abortion) is a progesterone blocker.  It terminates a pregnancy that has already been implanted. The abortion pill has a 96-99% effectiveness rate.  If the abortion fails, serious birth defects could result; for this reason, patients must be prepared to complete the abortion with an aspiration procedure.


The following chart explains differences between these two medications in more detail.



Emergency Contraception vs. the Abortion Pill





(Also known as Plan B or

the Morning After Pill)



(Also known as

medication abortion)


What Does It Do?


Prevents a pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse

Ends a pregnancy

When Can I Use It?


Works within 5 days of unprotected sex

Ends pregnancies in the first 9 weeks

Brand Names Of Pills

Plan B

Mifeprex, mifepristone, RU-486

What’s In The Pills?

Plan B contains the hormone progestin, one of the hormones found in daily

birth control pills.


Consists of the drug mifepristone, which blocks the action of progesterone, and is taken along with another drug, misoprostol.


When Do You Take It?

The sooner emergency contraception is taken after an episode of unprotected sex, the better it works. It works up to 5 days after unprotected sex. The 2 pills can be taken together or 12 hours apart.

A medication abortion usually requires 2 visits to the provider. On the first day, a woman takes mifepristone. Six to 72 hours later, the woman inserts misoprostol in her vagina. It usually takes several hours for the abortion to occur. A few days later she has a follow-up visit with her doctor.


What Happens to Your Body?

Side effects other than nausea are rare but can include vomiting, fatigue, headache, dizziness and breast pain. The next period sometimes comes a few days early or a few days late.

Heavy bleeding with clots is common during the abortion. Afterwards, lighter bleeding with clots may last 1-2 weeks or more. The pain varies from mild to very strong cramping off and on throughout the abortion. Pain pills help.


How Much Does It Cost?

We charge $30.

We charge $400.  Many insurance plans now cover it.



How Effective Is It?

Taken correctly, emergency contraception reduces a woman's chance of becoming pregnant by 85 to 99 percent, depending on how soon the pills are taken.


Success rate is about 96-99%. When it fails, an aspiration abortion is needed.

Do You Have To Tell Your Parents?




Insurance Coverage

Insurance plans that cover birth control pills usually cover EC.

Many insurance plans now cover medication abortion.

Further information For more information about Plan B, you may also wish to visit the Plan B Consumer Webpage. For more information, you may wish to visit the pharmaceutical company website for mifeprex at .


Please note the protocol we use is slightly different than the one described in company literature.  These changes are widely used to  improve the effectiveness and  convenience of medication abortion.



(Source:  The Reproductive Health Access Project,








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