Difference Between Emergency Contraception and Abortion Pills

In a recent episode of Black Mirror, one character (not a spoiler if I don’t tell you who, right?) Tries to terminate another’s pregnancy using emergency contraception in his breakfast smoothie. People, EC and abortion pills are two completely different things.

Let’s look at this in chronological order. If you have a functioning uterus and ovaries, your body starts a weekly project each month to mature and release (usually) one egg. If sperm is present when the egg is released, the two cells can merge, and then you are on your way to having a baby.

You will not get pregnant while having sex. Sex is just a step in which you collect sperm for future use. After a few hours or days, the sperm are still alive, dangling in the fallopian tubes and can fertilize the egg if they are lucky enough to be present at the release of the egg.

As a uterus owner, if you want to avoid getting pregnant, you have many options for birth control, including condoms and VCIs. But since there seems to be some confusion about which pills do what, these are the pills that might keep you from getting pregnant:

  • Oral tablets : You take them once a day before intercourse. The tablets contain either a progestin or a combination of estrogen and progestin. These hormones work in different ways, but both cause the egg not to be released , so the sperm and egg never meet. Oral tablets require a prescription.
  • Emergency contraception (EC) : You take these immediately after intercourse if you have not previously taken oral contraceptives. Perhaps you expected to use a condom, but it broke, slipped off, or just forgot. Or maybe you were raped or the victim of a theft . EC is a huge dose of oral contraceptives and is the latest attempt to prevent egg release. Most forms of EC are 95 percent effective when taken in the first 24 hours after sex, and decrease rapidly over the next few days. The sooner the better, so definitely don’t wait until breakfast to put your pills in your shake; you are racing on the clock. Fortunately, EC is available over the counter. If this is not available in your area, there are services that deliver the tablets by express delivery.
  • Medical abortion : These are the only pills that can terminate a pregnancy if you are already pregnant. At this point, you are not taking the “next morning” pill; it’s an abortion. In the United States, you will have to see a specialist, perhaps at a clinic like Planned Parenthood, and you will have to overcome all the obstacles that your state’s laws have placed between pregnancy and abortion. You usually take the pill in two doses: mifepristone first, then misoprostol every other day or two . A medical abortion can usually be done during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy .

Unfortunately, fixing someone’s drinking with abortion pills is a real deal. The woman’s 17-week pregnancy ended tragically against her will when her doctor boyfriend served her tea with a huge dose of misoprostol.

So if you’re writing dystopian literature or whatever, take a note. Emergency contraception is what it sounds like: contraception that you must take right before fertilization. And medical abortion is an abortion achieved by taking medication. If you are already pregnant, then only the second one will help.


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