Today is the 37th Anniversary of Roe v Wade—the landmark decision that legalized abortion in the United States. We are dedicating this week’s Consensual Text to a woman’s right to choose.
There’s actually a *huge* difference between emergency contraception and the abortion pill. And we’re so glad you asked! There are many myths and misconceptions that seem to surround these pills.
EC – Emergency Contraception (AKA the Morning After Pill or Plan B): Like the name implies, EC is taken in emergencies to prevent you from getting pregnant. If the condom breaks, or you were so caught up in the moment you never used contraception in the first place, or if you were forced to have sex against your will: EC can be used for any of these.
- EC protects a woman, who has had unprotected intercourse, from getting pregnant.
- EC is most effective if used within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse, condom breakage, or a method failure. It can still be used up to 120 hours (5 days), but might be less effective.
- EC contains the same hormone that is in most birth control pills but has a different dosage.
- EC is not abortion. It prevents conception.
It’s a good idea to carry EC with you or to keep it in your house for those “just in case” moments. Be aware that EC does not protect you against STD’s and HIV.
Abortion Pill (AKA Medication Abortion): Unlike EC, the abortion pill is used to terminate an already existent pregnancy. It is an alternative to the in-clinic, surgical abortion procedure.
- The Abortion Pill is taken after a positive pregnancy test and a decision to terminate an early pregnancy—up to 9 weeks.
- Two pills are taken. The first is taken at the health center and is the abortion pill (mifepristone). It blocks the hormone progesterone, which breaks down the lining of the uterus. Step two, taken at home, is a pill called misoprostol. This causes the uterus to empty.
- Hormones in the abortion pill are not the same as hormones used in EC or birth control pills.
- Some women choose this type of abortion because of the privacy it offers and because it is not a surgical procedure.
These pills are used for completely different things—EC is for preventing pregnancy and the abortion pill is for discontinuing a pregnancy, for whatever reasons a woman has.
All Planned Parenthood health centers educate their patients on the full spectrum of their options. As a matter of fact, our current CEO’s dedication to choice stems from an experience as a teen in a Planned Parenthood health center. After being educated on all options, our CEO chose to carry the pregnancy to term. If you need accurate and comprehensive information on your choices, contact your nearest Planned Parenthood health center.
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England’s Education Department carefully selects all weekly questions. All questions are actual inquiries made to PPNNE by college-aged students.
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