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How long does a typical RU486/PG abortion take and how many steps does it involve?

An RU486/PG induced abortion can take days, weeks, or never happen at all. It typically involves three (or more) visits to the doctor's office over a two week period.

In her first visit, a woman is "counseled," given a physical examination, perhaps an ultrasound, and if there are no obvious contraindications (common red flags such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heavy smoking, allergies, etc. that could make taking the drug deadly or dangerous for her), she is given the RU486 pills, which she takes in the presence of the abortionist.

Two days later, during a second visit to the doctor's office, she is given the prostaglandin, which she takes orally or has inserted vaginally. Gradually, as the drug begins to take effect, she experiences powerful, painful uterine contractions which begin to work to expel the baby.

In U.S. trials, about half (49%) aborted during the four hours they spent waiting in the doctor's office following the administration of the prostaglandin. An additional 26 % aborted sometime over the next 20 hours, on the bus ride home, at work, in the shower, etc. The rest who aborted did so at some point during the following two weeks. Between 8% and 23% (depending on how many weeks pregnant the mother was) never completely aborted or didn't abort at all using the drugs.

A third visit some 14 days from the woman's initial visit allows the doctor to confirm whether or not the abortion has been completed. If it hasn't, the abortionist will encourage the woman to undergo a surgical abortion to guard against the possibility that she will give birth to a child who may have been injured by the drugs.

Printed with permission from National Right to Life (www.nrlc.org).

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