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The Story of Abortion Pills and How They Work

Claude Évin’s
Roussel Uclaf’s
US Supreme Court
the University of Edinburgh
the Population Council
the British Pregnancy Advisory Service charity
the US Food and Drug Administration
the University of California
the University of Oxford
the US Supreme Court
Physicians for Reproductive Health
Condé Nast
Affiliate Partnerships

Anna Glasier
André Ulmann
Lily Hay NewmanGrace BrowneSabrina
Clare Murphy
Ushma Upadhyay
Imogen Goold
Chelsea Faso


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The New York Times
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In 2000, former Roussel Uclaf board member André Ulmann described how, even earlier in the drug’s history—before it was authorized in France—he began giving mifepristone to any gynecologist in France who wrote to him asking for it, without asking permission from his bosses.“By the end of 1988, we had trained the staffs of more than 200 of the 800 authorized abortion centers in France, and the method was already routinely used in many places before the official launch,” he wrote.Lily Hay NewmanGrace BrowneSabrina WeissThe emergence of pills that could induce an abortion was “absolutely revolutionary,” says Clare Murphy, CEO of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service charity. Medical professionals and health experts who spoke to WIRED say these drugs are extremely safe and have made the process of self-terminating a pregnancy (which is illegal but still practiced in many places) much safer than it once was.Generally, pregnant people take a dose of mifepristone and then, 24 to 48 hours later, the misoprostol, says Murphy. Wade is overturned, a number of states will ban the provision of abortion medication by mail.When taking the medication at home, some pregnant people might choose to take a bath or use a hot water bottle to be as comfortable as possible while it takes effect, Murphy says. Around 95 percent of medication abortions resulted in no complications whatsoever.“The safety rate was extremely high, way higher than most people normally believe,” says Upadhyay.Imogen Goold, professor of medical law at the University of Oxford, says that wherever legal frameworks do not establish women’s right to abortion on demand, it may be hard to maintain the availability of drugs such as mifepristone, given their continuing controversy in certain places.

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