RU 486 (medical abortion pill) is 100% legal in America. It is a combo of mifepristone (mifeprex)--one-three pills, and misoprostol (cytotec)2-4 pills taken either orally or inserted vaginally. The cytotec is taken 2 days after the mifeprex.
For example, mifeprex is taken on friday, cytotec taken on Sunday.
The mifeprex is an anti-progesterone, which means it simply blocks the use of the progesterone produced in a normal pregnancy to maintain the development of the zygote/embryo. When this is blocked, the zygote/embryo ceases developing. The cytotec--as many of us know--causes uterine contractions to expell the products of conception. Side effects most common for these two drugs are nausea, vomiting, and diarhhea.
The person must return to the office in order to have a sono and blood test to ensure that all the products of conception (incl. zygote/embryo and chorionic villi/placenta etc). If they are still there (all or partial), the practitioner (doctor/midwife/nurse practitioner) and woman will decide whether to administer cytotec or perform a suction abortion. If the 2nd round of cytotec does not "work", then a suction or D&C is performed.
It must be administered by someone with ability and access to surgical abortions (incl CNMs and NPs who work with an OB/GYN), again for the above reason.
After the 5th-7th week (depending on clinic/practitioner, not law), it becomes riskier because the implantation into the uterus is too deep and hemorrhage becomes a significant issue. Also, there is a much higher chance of the "products" being retained at this point in time, for the above mentioned reason, as well as the embryo's development--it does not rely as heavily on progesterone to continue developing.
It is usually not much more expensive than a surgical abortion, and many more women are choosing this "medical" abortion for the following reasons:
~No risk of perforation (A tool ripping the cervix, vagina or uterus)
~Much less risk of infection
~Non-invasive (no tools are used)
~Much more private (most places will let you take the cytotec at home and therefore "miscarry" either by themselves or with family/friends for moral support
~Feels more natural (see above)
~They can bury or see the products of conception if they wish.
Of course there are downfalls. Increased risk of hemorrhage (mostly because the woman is not being monitored...once found out, it can usually be corrected), the process is much longer (bleeding for 2-6weeks is average, much like the lochia after birth) and harder for some emotionally, it is more unpredicatable (as far as how much bleeding, for how long, and when the bleeding will start), and again, the price is higher, although some insurances and some Medicaid programs will pay for it (I know that in NY they do, not sure about any other state so that's a plus(or a minus, depending on your views)--although more insurences incl. medicaid may pay for a surgical but not medical abortion due to the usually slight cost difference,.
The morning after pill, or "Plan B" is, as someone before me stated, a higher dose of birth control pill hormones. What this does is brings on an early menses, therefore preventing the implantation of the potentially fertilized egg. (BTW-Most women who seek Plan B are not even within their regular ovulation window, and therefore most likely do not have an egg to fertilize in the 1st place, but as many see it-better safe than sorry)
Another big difference between the two is that Plan B is available by prescription at just about any pharmacy (although many mom and pop places choose not to dispense them due to their own beliefs--this can usually be avoided by the MW/MD/NP prescribing regular birth control pills and instructing the woman on how to take them). RU486, however, must be dispensed in the providers office. The Mifeprex is taken in the office with the provider present, the cytotec is given to the women at that visit to take home and she is told to take them in 2 days.
I'd have no problems using the morning after pill (never have tho), as I don't consider tihs abortion-I wouldn't think twice. If I decided to have an abortion for whatever reason, I would definately opt for the medical abortion.