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Why use the term “medication abortion” and not “medical abortion”?


Non-aspiration or non-surgical abortion is often referred to as “medical abortion.” However, this phrase has led to confusion among both providers and the public, as the term “medical” is popularly associated with physician-based practices and/or medical necessity. “Medication abortion” more accurately represents the family of safe and effective drug-based methods that can be used to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Use of the term “the abortion pill” is also misleading; both the mifepristone/misoprostol regimen and the methotrexate/misoprostol regimen require more than one medication. Further, methotrexate can be administered through an intramuscular injection and is therefore not always in pill form. In order to provide clear and accurate information about pregnancy termination options, we use “medication abortion” throughout this website.


Reference: Weitz T, Foster A, Ellertson C, Grossman D, Stewart F. “Medical” and “surgical” abortion: Rethinking the modifiers. Contraception 2004:69:77-78.



If you have questions about medication abortion, please visit our frequently asked questions section.


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