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Mifepristone’s safety is on par with common over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, studies show.
Mifepristone’s safety is on par with common over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, studies show. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Research has long found that medication abortion is highly safe and effective, even when the patient does not see a doctor in person and gets the medicine through a telehealth or text appointment, a February study found.

Common side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, weakness and dizziness. These usually happen in the first 24 hours after the person takes the second drug in the two-medication regimen. Rare side effects include a fast heartbeat, fainting and fatal infections. There is a 0.4% risk of major complications, studies show.

There were about 5.9 million medical terminations of pregnancy with mifepristone from its approval in the US in 2000 through the end of 2022, with 32 reports of death in these patients. The deaths cannot be directly attributed to mifepristone, the FDA says, because of information gaps about patient health status and clinical management.

An abortion using mifepristone is effective 99.6% of the time, studies show. If the abortion is not complete, the person may need to take the medicine again. In extremely rare cases, they may have to have a surgical abortion.

Mifepristone’s safety is on par with common over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, studies show.

Data analyzed by CNN shows that mifepristone is even safer than some of the most common prescription medications. The risk of death from penicillin, an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections like pneumonia, for example, is four times greater than it is for mifepristone. The risk of death after taking Viagra — used to treat erectile dysfunction — is nearly 10 times higher.

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