Medication abortion is common; here's how it works

Boxes of the drug mifepristone line a shelf at the West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Wednesday, March 16, 2022. The drug is one of two used together in "medication abortions." (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed, File)

Medication abortions became the preferred method for ending pregnancy in the U.S. even before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. These involve taking two prescription medicines days apart - at home or in a clinic.

Abortion procedures are an invasive medical technique that empties the womb. They are sometimes called surgical abortions, although they don't involve surgery.

Abortion by pills involves the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol. As more states seek abortion limits, demand for the pills is expected to grow.

HOW THE DRUGS WORK

Mifepristone is taken first, swallowed by mouth. The drug dilates the cervix and blocks the effects of the hormone progesterone, which is needed to sustain a pregnancy.

Misoprostol, a drug also used to treat stomach ulcers, is taken 24 to 48 hours later.