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After years of waiting, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finally approved the abortion pill - aka mifepristone (or RU 486) and within the month, doctors may be able to prescribe the drug to women in their first seven weeks of pregnancy. But getting RU 486 won't be as easy as, say, getting your Rx for allergy pills filled. The FDA has ruled that each prescription must be accompanied by an RU 486 brochure. Also, physicians who prescribe it must be able to perform a surgical abortion or make prior arrangements with a doctor who can in case the mifepristone regimen fails, as it does in about 5% of cases. Treatment with the drug (sold as Mifeprex) involves three doctor visits. Here's the breakdown:
Step 1: The patient takes three mifepristone tablets, which block the action of progesterone, the hormone that prepares the uterus for pregnancy.
Step 2: Two days later, the patient takes another drug to start the uterine contractions that will expel the fertilized egg. (Pain, bleeding and discomfort are possible side effects.)
Step 3: The patient has a follow-up visit with her doctor two weeks later to confirm the abortion is complete.