What Medication Abortions Actually Feel Like, According to Those Who’ve Had Them
Let’s talk about mifepristone, aka the hard-to-pronounce drug that when used in combination with other hard-to-pronounce drug misoprostol is actually extremely safe and effective at ending unwanted pregnancies in the privacy of your own home. You’ve probably seen mifepristone in the news recently. Why, you ask? Because certain members of the right wing are completely fixated on ruthlessly attacking reproductive rights and eliminating body autonomy in our country. Ah, I love it here.
The TL;DR is that back in early April, a conservative district court judge in Texas tried to invalidate the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, claiming safety concerns. Just a few hours later, a Washington district court judge issued the opposite ruling. It got kicked up to the Supreme Court, and after a few more chaotic legal moves, SCOTUS ultimately decided to preserve access to mifepristone—for now. Mark your calendar for May 17 when the appeals court will hear oral arguments in the Texas case.
In light of that frustrating mess, we thought it was high time for people who have *actually* used mifepristone to self-manage abortions at home to take the floor. So we partnered with Hey Jane, a virtual clinic that provides abortion pills to patients through the mail. Below, five women open up about how their abortion medication was, in a lot ways, a hugely positive, easy and convenient, life-changing experience.
“It was extremely easy and convenient to access.”
When I found out I was pregnant over the summer, I knew I wasn’t ready. I felt so guilty. I’m a mom to a darling 5-year-old daughter, but I struggle with mental health issues—I wasn’t in the right place to welcome a new child. I chose to use medication abortion through the mail because it felt way less stigmatized. Plus, it was extremely easy and convenient to access. I ordered the medications online and felt incredibly comfortable doing so; it didn’t feel weird or sketchy at all. I didn’t even think about using insurance and paid about $350 total out of pocket. My partner, best friends, and therapist all supported me and my choice throughout the entire process. I felt like I had the care and support I needed.
“I never once felt judged.”
Where we live in California is pretty conservative and there aren’t a lot of abortion clinics, and the clinics that are available are pretty expensive, but there’s a Planned Parenthood maybe about an hour away. An abortion was gonna run me over $1,000. I could afford it, but it was steep. Plus, at the time, COVID-19 was still running rampant, and a lot of the clinics that I called said I had to go alone. This was such a scary time in my life and that was the last thing I wanted. I called around and googled and Hey Jane came up, and I was like, ‘Wait, hold on a second, this is about $250 and gets shipped to my door?’ I was so relieved. I had the convenience and the privacy and comfort of being home with my partner rather than alone in a clinic.
The whole process was clear, kind, and so caring. I never once felt judged. That was the biggest thing for me because I was already judging myself as a woman and human for what I’m doing—I didn’t need that extra layer of someone else deeming what I’m doing as wrong or having their own feelings projected onto me. I started bleeding rather quickly, and I was nervous about the amount, so I discussed that with my nurse in the Hey Jane app. She was super supportive. I’m a very nervous person, so to have that extra level of care was awesome. I can’t stress this enough: You can have safe abortions at home.
“It was so nice to be able to do it in the comfort of my own home.”
When I found out I was pregnant, the earliest appointment at Planned Parenthood wasn’t for three weeks. I couldn’t wait that long and I didn’t want to let it go on longer and have it be a bigger process. But I thought the clinic was my only option.
My mom sent me an article of places to get abortion pills and I recognized Hey Jane on the list because I had seen them on TikTok. I felt like I could trust them. I went to the site, typed in all the information they asked for, then ordered the pills. That was a Friday, and they came the following Monday. It all honestly felt like I was just having like a really heavy period but only for like four hours. I took the second set of pills before bed, got up a few times in the night to use the bathroom, and then when I woke up in the morning, there was very minimal bleeding. With medical abortion, there’s really no recovery time. The day after I took the pills, I went back to my regular routine.
It was so nice to be able to do it in the comfort of my own home and to have my partner be able to be there too. I’m very grateful for that because it took away this idea of a scary process. It was like, ‘Okay, this is a thing people do.’ It’s not something to be afraid of—it’s a very easy medical procedure.
“It was really empowering.”
I was with a friend when I took a pregnancy test and it came back positive. We both were freaking out. She previously had an abortion in a red state and said it was a horrible experience. But later, she had another one in New York through Hey Jane, and that’s how I learned about them. I had no idea it was an option. You don’t even have to go to the doctor because Hey Jane has an app with a 24/7 medical team.
When I got my pills, I took the first one and did high strenuous activity all day and had no side effects—it didn’t even hurt my super-sensitive stomach. Honestly, it was almost like nothing. The second set was different: The bleeding started shortly after and it was pretty painful. I just slept it off and had a good support system between my boyfriend being with me and my friend regularly checking on me.
To be able to go through that process in my own space on my own time and have a little bit more control was really empowering. I didn’t have to think about it so much. It was just kind of, like, this is my choice that I’ve made and no one’s second-guessing me or trying to dissuade me from my decision. It was awesome that I got to choose when I did it, where I did it, and how I did it. I was in complete control.
“It felt so much safer and more discreet.”
I found out I was pregnant about 12 hours before my husband and I went on vacation. We were traveling to Indiana to spend time with friends (ironically, right around the time their governor said he was going to ban the morning after pill), and my friends were telling me, “If you’re here for three weeks, you’re going to be further along in your pregnancy so if you’re gonna do something, you’d better do it in Colorado.” But I didn’t have time. So I was literally in the passenger seat of the car while my husband drove, scrolling to find information about potentially getting an abortion in Indiana and I found Hey Jane in my search. It was amazing because I was able to do the whole process all from my car on my phone.
The medication was waiting for me at home when I got back. As I opened the package, I read the directions probably 500 times—just to make sure—but it was really thorough. When I realized I can do this at home, I was beside myself with relief, just crying. You can walk into a Planned Parenthood clinic, and they are wonderful places, but you can’t guarantee that you’re not going to see your neighbor or that your boss isn’t going to drive by. They could make an offhand comment in your workplace or when you’re picking your child up from school. It felt so much safer and more discreet.
Interviews have been lightly edited for clarity.
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