Here’s how morning-after pills like Plan B differ from abortion pills

Morning after pill does not cause abortion

In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision and growing concern over a woman's reproductive rights, there is now an increased demand for morning-after pills.

DETROIT – In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision and growing concern over a woman’s reproductive rights, there is now an increased demand for morning-after pills.

The morning-after pill, whose most well-known trade name is “Plan B,” does not cause an abortion. It is intended as emergency contraception for use immediately after unprotected intercourse, but there is some confusion and even controversy over these pills.

Whether it’s increased interest in preventing pregnancy or confusion over what the morning-after pill does, there have been enough sales so that CVS and Rite Aid are limiting the number of the over-the-counter morning-after products an individual can purchase.

Let’s clear up any confusion between the over-the-counter morning-after pill used to prevent pregnancy and completely different, prescription-only abortion medications.

The morning-after pill is a hormone that is actually used at a lower dose in many common birth control pills. Taking the pill immediately after unprotected intercourse reduces the chance of a woman becoming pregnant by about 87%.

There are a few different ways that it works:

  1. It can prevent the release of an egg from the ovary.
  2. It can change the way an egg and sperm move through the fallopian tubes, decreasing the chance of fertilization.
  3. It changes the lining of the uterus so a fertilized egg cannot implant and develop.

If a woman is already pregnant, the morning-after pill will not have an effect.

The abortion medication, primarily a combination of RU-486 and another medication, is fully approved by the FDA to induce an abortion in pregnancies 10 weeks or less. Unlike the morning-after pill, this combination of medications will result in a termination of pregnancy.

Right now, some states that will restrict abortions also intend to restrict access to medications that will induce an abortion; however, no states have restricted access to the morning-after pill, which does not cause an abortion.


About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.