January 3, 2024
At-home abortions, also known as medication abortion or abortion pills, are a safe and effective way to have an abortion from the comfort and privacy of your phone. Dr. F, a member of Hey Jane’s Clinical Care team, breaks down common questions our patients have about the safety of this common treatment.
Having an abortion is safe - much safer than carrying a pregnancy to term - regardless of the method of abortion you choose. Complications occur in less than 0.4% of people for medication abortion, and less than 1% for in-clinic procedural abortion.
There are two main ways to have an abortion: a medication abortion using pills at home, or a procedural abortion done in a clinical setting by a healthcare provider. Medication abortion, also known as abortion pills, has grown in popularity as over half of patients seeking abortion choose to use medications. So, let's demystify this option and get into just how safe and accessible it can be.
What is an at-home abortion?
An at-home abortion generally refers to using abortion medications at home to end a pregnancy. The most commonly used medications in the US are a 2-step regimen consisting of mifepristone, a pill that blocks the hormone supporting the pregnancy and causing the pregnancy to stop growing, and misoprostol, a medication that causes the uterus to contract to pass the pregnancy. The at-home medication abortion experience includes cramping and bleeding very similar to a miscarriage.
Some people prefer an at-home abortion because
Others prefer an in-clinic procedure as it is quick, it may be done under sedation in some settings, and they are able to confirm they are no longer pregnant by the time they leave the clinic that day.
At-home abortions are very safe and effective. Multiple research studies have concluded that the majority of medication abortions can be safely and effectively completed without any in person exam, testing, or ultrasounds, and medically unnecessary tests just lead to further delays in care.
Medication abortion is about 4 times safer than aspirin, and 14 times safer than continuing a pregnancy. In 2023, Hey Jane published a Clinical Whitepaper detailing the safety of medication abortion care. Click below to read more.
Complications are rare and most are not serious.
The most common complication is a continued pregnancy. If the pregnancy continues after taking abortion medication, you may be able to take more medicine or you may need to have an abortion procedure. Serious risks, such as hemorrhage and infection, are very rare.
The current 2-step medication regimen used for medication abortion has been FDA approved since 2000. Since then, people have been undergoing medication abortion safely at home. But due to clinically unnecessary restrictions on one of the abortion medications, patients were required to pick the pills up directly from the clinic from which it was prescribed. It was not until the COVID-19 pandemic that mailing the medications directly to a person’s home became an option. Since then, tens of thousands of people have safely had at-home abortions with Hey Jane without ever needing to leave their home or step foot in a clinic.
There are rare instances in which it is not safe to have a medication abortion at home - these are instances that we screen for when determining whether an at-home medication abortion is the right fit for your care. This includes severe anemia, or low blood counts that cause symptoms such as lightheadedness or shortness of breath; having an ectopic pregnancy, or a pregnancy that is outside of the uterus; having certain medical conditions (such as porphyria) or taking certain medications that interact with the medications used (such as chronic steroid use); or having an allergy to any of the medications used.
Everyone should have the right to choose to have an abortion, and to choose the timing and setting of their abortion to best fit their individual circumstances. When trying to decide what is right for you, you may consider cost, scheduling around work or school or other scheduling conflicts, whether you have a safe and comfortable environment where you can take abortion pills and pass the pregnancy, whether you have medical conditions that may make having an at-home abortion less safe, or whether you are comfortable with the process of taking the pills, passing the pregnancy at home, and following up with your provider one week and one month after taking the pills to confirm the process is complete.
The medication abortion pills are FDA-approved for use up to 10 weeks gestational age, and there is good evidence supporting safety and efficacy up to 11 weeks. Beyond this, it is currently recommended to have a procedural abortion in a clinic.
Telehealth abortion care is a safe and private way to get an abortion from the comfort of your home. Hey Jane is a leading provider of at-home abortion care in the US.
We offer medication abortion care for people who are:
Hey Jane provides care, regardless of immigration status, and you can provide any form of valid ID that has your name, photo, and date of birth. We support care for all pregnant people, including all gender identities.
If you’re eligible, our clinical care team will guide you through the process to receive FDA-approved abortion pills. Our fast turnaround times ensure the medications are delivered quickly to your door (or P.O. box) in a discreet, unmarked package. We offer ongoing support from our clinical care team, a 24/7 urgent medical support line, a peer-to-peer community forum, and helpful resources.
Want to see if you’re eligible?
At Hey Jane, we use evidence-based protocols to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our patients. We ask the same questions and safety checks as any in-person clinic to confirm the safety of completing the medication abortion without further testing. In rare instances, we may need to order a blood test to be completed at a local lab or an ultrasound at a local imaging center or clinic in order to confirm the safety of the at-home abortion.
Our outcomes speak for themselves. Our clinical white paper, a collaboration between our care teams and partnering researchers, demonstrates that our care model providing at-home abortions had fewer serious adverse events than the national average, and a 99% success rate which is also higher than the national average.