How is a chemical abortion (RU-486) performed?
RU-486 is a chemical (rather than a surgical) abortion, performed up to 56 days gestation. RU-486 requires at least three visits to the doctor’s office or clinic. At the first visit, the woman is given a physical exam and is administered mifepristone. RU-486 blocks the action of progesterone, the natural hormone vital to maintaining the lining of the uterus. The embryo starves as the nutrient lining disintegrates. At a second visit, 36-48 hours later, the woman is giving a dose of artificial prostaglandins, usually misoprostol, which initiate uterine contractions and usually cause the embryo to be expelled from the uterus. Most women abort during the four hour waiting period, but about 30% abort as many as five days later—at home, work, etc. A third visit about 2 weeks later determines whether the abortion has occurred or if a surgical abortion is necessary to complete the procedure.
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