Understandably, there is quite a bit of confusion surrounding the difference between the morning-after pill and the abortion pill. However, it is important to note that these two medications serve very different purposes. The biggest difference is that the morning-after pill prevents pregnancy and the abortion pill terminates an unwanted pregnancy.

So, to help clear up any confusion, we take a closer look at both medications, how they work, and explain the important differences between the two.


Many people believe that the morning-after pill prevents implantation of a fertilized egg. Meaning that it is classified as an abortifacient—it causes a pregnancy to end prematurely and causes an abortion. However, the morning-after pill contains the hormone progestin that will inhibit ovulation and fertilization, not implantation. And, medically, you are only considered to be pregnant after implantation has occurred. As a result of this common misconception, many women may perhaps be judged or forbidden to take it by their families or communities.

The abortion pill contains mifepristone, which will induce abortion and cause an unwanted pregnancy to be terminated. Abortion pills can be taken up to 11 weeks (77 days), and after this, an in-clinic surgical abortion will be necessary. Abortion tablets can take up to a few days to work, whereas a surgical procedure is immediate. Some patients prefer the surgical procedure because in 1-day they know the abortion is complete and can return to regular activities. However, some women prefer having an abortion in the comfort of their own home and around the timing of their work or school schedule.


  • The morning-after pill (also known as an emergency contraceptive) contains the hormone progestin which prevents pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation and fertilization.
  • It will reduce the risk of pregnancy if taken within 120 hours (five days) of unprotected intercourse.
  • It will not work if you are already pregnant when you take it.
  • The morning-after pill will release progestin into the body shortly after you have taken the tablet.
  • Generally, the morning-after pill is available over the counter at drugstores without age restriction or a prescription from your doctor
  • The most common side effects include nausea and vomiting. Abdominal pain, breast tenderness, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and irregular bleeding may occur. These side effects will generally subside within 48 hours.
  • The price of the morning-after pill will vary across the county but ranges between $30 – $65


  • The abortion pill (also known as medication abortion) will terminate a pregnancy without having to undergo a medical procedure to abort the fetus.
  • It can terminate unwanted pregnancies for up to 77 days after a woman’s last menstruation.
  • The process involves taking two types of tablets. The first pill contains mifepristone, which blocks the production of progestin which causes the lining of the uterus to break down. The second pill contains misoprostol which causes cramping and bleeding to empty your uterus.
  • Women will either take the misoprostol right away or up to 48 hours after taking the first pill. For most people, the cramping and bleeding usually starts 1-4 hours after taking the misoprostol.
  • The most common side effects following a medication abortion are similar to those of a miscarriage—abdominal pain, bleeding, changes in body temperature, dizziness, fatigue, and gastrointestinal distress.
  • Heavy bleeding may continue for about 13 days and spotting can last up to a  few weeks.
  • Nationwide, the price of medication abortion ranges between $300 and $800.

To summarize, if you have had unprotected intercourse and suspect that you may become pregnant you can take the morning-after pill if you want to prevent pregnancy. If you are pregnant and it’s been more than 5 days since intercourse, and you would like to terminate your pregnancy you will need to take the abortion pill.

If you have any questions about abortion or unplanned pregnancy, visit Aspire Women’s Clinic, we offer free pregnancy tests for women facing an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. We also understand that this is a difficult time and offer unplanned pregnancy support and have many helpful pregnancy resources should you need them. Call us today or pop into one of our free clinics to find out how we can help you.