FAQs

What is a medical abortion?

A medical abortion is the use of pills to end a pregnancy. These pills (mifepristone and misoprostol) essentially induce a miscarriage. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved mifepristone in 2000, and since then over 2.5 million women in the U.S. have had a medical abortion. Medical abortion is effective up to 70 days (10 weeks) of pregnancy.

How effective and safe is medical abortion?

Medical abortion is highly effective. Research has shown that the pill regimen completely terminates pregnancy in about 95% of patients. About 5% of patients may need to have a uterine aspiration (a surgical abortion) because of a continuing pregnancy, incomplete abortion, or persistent bleeding.

Medical abortion is also very safe. Serious risks, such as heavy bleeding and infection are rare. It is very unusual for women to need admission to a hospital for treatment or to have a blood transfusion after a medical abortion.

Side effects of medical abortion are common; they include vaginal bleeding and abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and mild fever. These side effects usually last a short time and can be treated with over-the-counter medications.

Find out more about medical abortion at these websites:

How is a TelAbortion different from an in-person medical abortion?

To have an in-person medical abortion, you would go to an abortion clinic to be evaluated by the abortion provider and have all the necessary tests completed before the abortion. The abortion provider would then give you the abortion pills at the clinic.

A TelAbortion involves all the same steps and procedures, but you do not have to travel to an abortion clinic. Instead, the study abortion provider conducts a Video Evaluation over the Internet. All the necessary tests are done at medical facilities near your home. The abortion pills are then sent to you by overnight mail.

How does the TelAbortion process work?

A TelAbortion involves all the same steps and procedures as a regular medical abortion, but you do them without going into an abortion clinic.

  1. You will have a Video Evaluation with the study abortion provider over the Internet. During the evaluation, the provider will:
    • answer any questions you may have.
    • ask you some questions about your medical history.
    • help you find places near you where you can get the necessary pre-abortion tests including an ultrasound or pelvic exam and possibly blood tests.
  2. You will electronically sign the Consent Form for the study.
  3. You will obtain the tests and direct the reports to be sent to the study provider.
  4. If you are eligible for a TelAbortion, the study provider will send you a package containing the necessary medications and other materials by overnight mail. If you are not eligible, the study provider will advise you about options for further care.
  5. When you receive the medications, you will take them according to the instructions provided.
  6. If your blood type is Rh-negative, we may recommend that you get an injection of a medicine called Rh(D) immune globulin before you take the mifepristone.
  7. After you take the pills, you will have some additional tests as directed by the abortion provider to verify that the abortion is complete. These tests may consist of an ultrasound, pelvic exam, blood tests and/or urine tests.
  8. You will have another consultation with the study provider to review the results. If you need further treatment, the study provider will help you obtain it.
  9. At the final consultation, you will be asked some questions about how easy it was to follow the study procedures and the acceptability of the TelAbortion approach.

The study provider will share non-identifiable data about your case with the researchers for an evaluation of the TelAbortion approach.

If at any point you wish to come to the study clinic in person instead of continuing with the TelAbortion, you are welcome to do so.

Is a TelAbortion safe?

A TelAbortion uses the same evaluation procedures and administers the same abortion medications as an in-person medical abortion. Therefore, if you follow the instructions, we expect that it will be equally effective and safe.

Is a TelAbortion confidential?

Yes. The TelAbortion Study uses an encrypted, HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing platform. The information that you provide to the study abortion provider will be stored securely at the study clinic, just as it would be for an in-person abortion. No identifiable personal information will be shared with the researchers or any other entity, except as required by law.

What are the pros and cons of TelAbortion?

TelAbortion has several potential advantages over an in-person abortion:

  • You don’t have to go in person to an abortion clinic to have the abortion, which may make the abortion more convenient and less costly.
  • You also may be able to schedule the Video Evaluation sooner than you could go to a clinic for an in-person abortion.
  • A TelAbortion may be more private because you can consult with the abortion provider from your home.

But TelAbortion may also have significant disadvantages for some women:

  • Having to get the necessary tests before the abortion may delay the start of the abortion.
  • If someone other than you opened the study package that is mailed to you, that person could find out that you are having an abortion.
  • Depending on where you get the tests and what kind of medical insurance you have, the total cost of the TelAbortion may be more than the cost of an in-person medical abortion.
How much will a TelAbortion cost me?

If you are in the TelAbortion Study, you will not pay any out-of-pocket costs for any services received directly from the study abortion provider’s office, including consultations with the study abortion provider, the abortion medications, or treatment for medication failure, if needed. The study abortion provider may bill your insurance carrier if you have one.

You or your insurance carrier will have to pay for services obtained elsewhere, including pre-abortion and post-abortion exams and lab tests.

The study abortion provider will give you an estimated cost range before you enroll in the study. Depending on your insurance coverage, travel costs, and medical history, the total out-of-pocket cost for you may be more or less than you would pay for a standard in-person medical abortion.

To compensate you for your time spent following study procedures, you will receive $50 once you complete your follow up consultation.

Do I qualify for TelAbortion?

To qualify for the TelAbortion Study, you will need to meet all the same standard criteria as for an in-person medical abortion. These include:

  1. You are pregnant and want a medical abortion.
  2. You will be able to have all the necessary pre-abortion tests, receive the medications, and take the first abortion pill before you are 70 days (10 weeks) along in your pregnancy.
  3. You must not have any of the following conditions that could potentially make a medical abortion unsafe for you:
    • an IUD (Copper-T, Paragard, Mirena) in your uterus now
    • any problem with your adrenal glands
    • any condition that affects the ability of your blood to clot normally
    • inherited porphyria (a genetic blood disease)
    • an allergy to the abortion drugs
  4. You are not using certain kinds of medicines that could interfere with any drugs administered during the abortion. These include anticoagulants (blood thinners) and steroids.

Based on the information you provide in the Video Evaluation and on the results of your ultrasound and other tests, the study abortion provider will make a final determination as to whether you qualify for a safe and effective medical abortion.

What equipment do I need to participate?

For your Video Evaluation with the study abortion provider, you will need the following:

  • A desktop or laptop computer.
  • One of the following two Internet browsers: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox.
  • A working webcam and microphone.

You will not need to download anything to your computer. The Video Evaluation occurs directly over the Internet.

The following will NOT work:

  • Internet browsers other than the two listed above. In particular, the videoconferencing website cannot be accessed through Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer.
  • A tablet or mobile phone. The Video Evaluation can be done only on a desktop or laptop computer.
What if I don’t live in Hawaii, Oregon, or Washington?

At this time, the TelAbortion Study is open only to women who live in one of those three states.

If you live in another state, you will have to go in person to a clinic or hospital to have an abortion.

Can I get medical abortion pills by mail without participating in the TelAbortion Study?

No. The study can send mifepristone by mail only to women who participate in the study.

Who is conducting the TelAbortion Study?

This study is being conducted by institutions that provide abortions in participating states.

It has been reviewed by the US Food and Drug Administration.

None of the people or organizations conducting the study receive any profit from this work. No pharmaceutical company is involved in the TelAbortion Study.

I’m interested! How can I get started?

If you meet all of the basic qualifications, just follow the directions on our Get Started page (click here).