Medical abortion is a term used for procedures that terminate a pregnancy using medication, usually taken in the form of tablets by mouth. These medicines cause the pregnancy to stop developing and cause the uterus to contract and eject the pregnancy.
After abortifacient medication is taken, the body removes the pregnancy in the same way it does during a natural miscarriage. The uterus contracts, which is felt by the woman as strong cramps, and blood and tissue come out through the vagina.
There are a number of medicines that can terminate a pregnancy, but the two most commonly used ones are Mifepristone and Misoprostol.
Mifepristone is a medication that blocks the pregnancy hormone progesterone and begins the process of termination of pregnancy. It causes the cervix to soften and uterus to become ready to start contracting.
Misoprostol is a medication of the prostaglandin analogue class. It is usually taken 24 hours after Mifepristone. After Misoprostol is taken the miscarriage usually starts within 3 hours. If it does not, a further dose of Misoprostol can be taken.
According to World Health Organisation guidance, abortion pills can safely be used at home in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, as long as medical facilities (such as a hospital) can be accessed in case there are any complications.