Chemical Abortion (RU486)


Medical abortion, or chemical abortion, is an alternative to surgical abortion during the first 9 weeks of pregnancy. The procedure requires a visit to an accredited clinic or hospital where an ultrasound is performed to determine if it is less than 9 weeks and is not an ectopic pregnancy (tubal pregnancy).


Mifepristone, commonly referred to as RU486, is now available in Australia through some abortion clinics.


Certain medical conditions preclude the use of RU486 so a medical history would be taken and the patient would agree to return for a further ultrasound 2 weeks after the abortion to check if it had been effective.  The patient also would agree to a surgical abortion in the event of problems with the medical abortion.


If the patient decided to proceed, she would be given a pill (Mifepristone) to take then, and another (Misoprostol) to take at home approximately 24 hours later.  This usually brings on heavy cramping and bleeding which terminates the pregnancy.  Sometimes, this takes longer but if it exceeds 2 days the doctor should be consulted.  Some clinics require women to have a reliable phone, transport and to stay within a half hour journey of the clinic or hospital in case of excessive bleeding or other complications.


After taking Mifepristone, the patient might have:

  1. Nausea or dizziness

  2. Bleeding and cramps that feel like a painful period ( sometimes severe cramping)

  3. Headache, chills and diarrhea.


The doctor could give advice on managing these symptoms. It is inadvisable to drink alcohol, smoke or take illicit drugs for at least 2 days after the procedure.


During the week following the procedure, it is advisable to refrain from vaginal sex, using tampons, swimming or bathing or performing any strenuous activity. This lessens the chance of infection.


You should see your doctor if the vaginal bleeding doesn’t stop within a few days of having the procedure.


Mifepristone is not suitable for all women, especially those who are taking blood-thinning medication; who have allergic reaction to medication containing Mifepristone; have high blood pressure; have an IUD fitted (unless removed) or some other conditions.  This is why an extensive medical history should be taken before it is prescribed.