Much confusion exists when it comes to the similarities and differences between the Abortion Pill, or RU486, and The Morning After Pill, or Plan B. The differences between these two pills are huge- as they both do completely different things in the body. But what do they do, exactly? Let’s explain these differences in layman’s terms.
Both RU486 and Plan B are drugs that are used in the family planning sector of health care. The differences are two tiny words: prevention and termination. Basically put, RU486 terminates an existing pregnancy, while Plan B prevents pregnancy from occurring in the first place. The cost, ways they are obtained and method in which they are effective makes these pills as different from each other as night and day. First, let’s talk about The Morning After Pill, or Plan B.
Plan B is used on a per case basis when a condom is faulty during intercourse, or you are worried that some of your partner’s semen may have entered your vagina in another way. Plan B uses high doses of hormones, namely “Levonorgestrel”, to prevent pregnancy by making your uterine lining inhospitable to an embryo, if there is one. When you take Plan B within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, it is up to 96% effective in preventing pregnancy from occurring. It does not prevent conception, however, which is where the confusion lies in the argument. Pregnancy, as defined by medical science, is the time in which a fertilized egg, or embryo, attaches itself the the uterine wall to obtain nourishment for growth. This is the time in which a pregnancy test will come up positive. Plan B prevents a possible embryo from ever attaching to your uterine wall, therefor preventing pregnancy before it happens. The embryo is then expelled during menstruation along with your uterine lining.
Plan B is not, and should not be, a main form of birth control. It was created only for the occasional accident. Plan B is now available over the counter at your local pharmacy. To obtain it, you must request it from the pharmacist. He or she will then ask you for I.D., because Plan B is only available to adults over the age of eighteen. It costs anywhere from $20 -$45 per use. It is a small paper packet with two pills. Take one first, then the other twelve hours later. Plan B is also available at your local family planning clinic, such as Planned Parenthood.
RU486, The Abortion Pill, works in a much different way. As stated above, when pregnancy occurs, the embryo will attach itself to the uterine wall and begin to grow with the nourishment it obtains there. It will construct a placenta, umbilical cord, and the embryo itself will begin to develop. At this time, a urine or blood pregnancy test will be positive. If the pregnancy is unwanted, you may visit your gynecologist or abortion clinic to see if you will be a candidate for the pill. The Abortion Pill is only effective in pregnancies that are, at most, nine weeks gestation- that’s seven weeks from your missed period. The earlier you take RU486, the more effective it is. At nine weeks gestation, it has approximately a 75% effectiveness. At four weeks, it is 97% effective. RU486 is a drug that blocks progesterone production in your blood. Progesterone is crucial to the embryo, as it keeps it aids in it’s nourishment and is what assists in the lack of a menstrual period during pregnancy. When RU486 is taken (in two doses), it will begin to work almost immediately. Basically, RU486 will induce a pregnancy miscarriage and you will expel the embryo, placenta, and rich uterine lining as you would a menstrual period. You will probably experience some cramping and moderate to heavy bleeding. You can obtain RU486 from some gynecologists and most abortion clinics. The cost ranges from $250-$500, and may be offset if you have health insurance.
RU486 can only work on an established pregnancy. If you would rather have a medical abortion, you can refer to your local abortion clinic to explore the options of a suction abortion, which involves the dilation of the cervix and extraction of the contents with a vacuum tube. If you are more than nine weeks pregnant, RU486 is not an option. If you choose to terminate your pregnancy, current U.S. law allows abortion by choice up to 24 weeks gestation. You will have to go to an abortion clinic, and the further gestated your pregnancy is, the more in depth the abortion procedure is. It is also more costly in latter pregnancy.
It is more cost effective and less time consuming to prevent pregnancy with vigilant use of birth control. If you have an accident, it is comforting to know that Plan B is available as a backup. If you are pregnant and before nine weeks gestation, you can choose RU486 as a simple way to terminate your unwanted pregnancy.
It’s that simple- Plan B prevents pregnancy, while RU486 terminates it.
For more information, visit the Planned Parenthood National website, at http://www.ppfa.org