Safety of Women
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The abortion pill
This is a method of terminating early pregnancy using medications taken by mouth or by injection which produce a miscarriage.
Medical abortion works in two stages: First the women is given the drug mifepristone, which blocks a hormone needed to make fertilised eggs stick to the womb lining.
After 48 hours, the woman is given a different drug, which triggers contractions and bleeding and causes the fetus to be expelled from her body.
Medical abortion can be used in the first 7 weeks of a pregnancy, while surgical abortion is usually delayed until 6 weeks or later. The earlier an abortion is performed, the safer it is for the woman.
Some women say they would prefer this method because it somehow "seems more natural", and because it avoids surgery.
Supporters of abortion rights point out that medical abortion, because it needs much less training than surgical abortion, has the potential to make abortion more easily available to women who want to terminate a pregnancy.
Pro-life supporters say that Mifepristone may pose health risks to women, although studies have not supported this.
The morning-after pill
The morning-after pill consists of a high dose of female hormones - the same hormones found in the normal contraceptive pill.
It needs to be taken within 72 hours of sex, and the earlier it is taken the more effective it is.
Morning-after pills can operate as a contraceptive or by producing an abortion, but it's almost impossible to know in which way they are going to work.
It operates as a contraceptive by preventing or delaying ovulation.
The possibility that it may produce an abortion arises from the morning-after pill's second method of operation.
In this method it acts on the lining of the womb so as to prevent a fertilised egg from implanting (sticking to the lining of the womb). Since the fertilised egg can't stick, it is expelled from the womb.
Many pro-life groups object to the morning-after pill as a form of abortion because it can operate after the egg has been fertilised. Those who disagree with this argue that the pregnancy does not begin with fertilisation, but with implantation, and say that if implantation is prevented there was never any pregnancy to abort.
The other moral objection to the morning-after pill is that it allows people to avoid some of the consequences of casual sex, and so encourages immoral sexual behaviour.
There is also a mechanical morning-after method in which an intra-uterine device (IUD) is fitted up to 5 days after unprotected sex.