Medication Abortion

Elaina Rudder
Research Analyst

Leighann Thone
Research Analyst

Medication abortion, also referred to as medical abortion or the abortion pill, is a pregnancy termination method that involves the use of two medications. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved medication abortion in 2000. In 2016, the FDA approved a new evidence-based regimen and drug label, which guides current clinical practice.

The 2016 FDA-approved medication abortion regimen includes two medications: mifepristone and misoprostol.

Mifepristone blocks progesterone, an essential hormone for the development of a pregnancy, and prevents an existing pregnancy from progressing.

Misoprostol is taken 24 to 48 hours after mifepristone and works to empty the uterus by causing cramping and bleeding, similar to an early miscarriage. Within two weeks, a follow-up visit is conducted to confirm the pregnancy was terminated. This medication abortion regimen is approved for use during the first 10 weeks of a pregnancy.

Medication Abortion in Kansas

Under current Kansas law, medication abortion is permitted. KSA 65-6724 prohibits abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy, with an exception for medical emergencies. State law has requirements for accessing abortion procedures, including medication abortions (KSA 65-6709). Before performing an abortion procedure, physicians are required to:

  • Have the informed consent of the person receiving the abortion procedure. If such person is a minor, the written consent of that person’s parents is also required;
  • Wait 24 hours from the time the patient provides such consent before performing the procedure;
  • Inform the patient that they have the right to view an ultrasound image of the fetus at least 30 minutes prior to the abortion procedure, at no extra cost; and
  • Inform the patient that they have the right to listen to the heartbeat of the fetus at least 30 minutes prior to the abortion procedure, at no extra cost.

If a medical emergency compels the performance of an abortion, the physician must inform the patient why the procedure is necessary to prevent their death or substantial and irreversible impairment.

Use of Telemedicine

KSA 65-4a10(b) prohibits medication abortion from being administered via telemedicine unless the patient and physician are physically present in the same room. On November 23, 2022, a Shawnee County District Judge granted a Wichita abortion clinic’s request for a temporary injunction of this law.

States’ Physician Requirements for Medication Abortion

Physician RequiredPhysician + Physical Presence Required (1)Physician Not Required 
MontanaMissouri*New Hampshire
NevadaNebraskaNew Jersey
Ohio*North CarolinaNew Mexico
PennsylvaniaNorth DakotaNew York
WisconsinSouth CarolinaRhode Island
Wyoming*South DakotaVermont
(1) Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Texas, and West Virginia explicitly ban the use of telemedicine for abortion.
*Complete or Partial Abortion Ban
**Medication abortion ban after 8 weeks

Medication Abortion in Other States

Most states permit the use of medication abortion. In 15 states, abortion is prohibited except in cases of medical emergencies or to preserve the life and health of the mother.
Certain states that permit medication abortion have requirements for accessing abortion care, some of which are similar to Kansas requirements. Currently, 32 states authorize only physicians to prescribe abortion medication.

Of these states, 19 also require the prescribing physician be in the physical presence of the patient. In 17 states and the District of Columbia, an advance practice clinician can prescribe abortion medication.

The table above illustrates which states require abortion medications to be prescribed by a physician or require the physician be in the physical presence of the patient.