Surgical abortion using vacuum aspiration or dilatation and curettage has been the method of choice for termination of pregnancy up to 63 days' gestation since the 1960s. Over the last three decades many studies have explored the use of medical methods for inducing abortion at these gestations. Earlier regimens assessed the systemic and intrauterine injection of prostaglandins. This was followed in the 1980s by the introduction of the antiprogesterone, mifepristone. Since its introduction, the uptake of medical abortion has been steadily increasing in countries where it has been available for routine use. Most current clinical protocols require the use of prostaglandins in combination with anti-progesterones or antimetabolites. The safety, efficacy and acceptability of the medical regimen are now well established at all gestations of pregnancy. Provision of medical abortion increases the choice available to women, in particular those wishing to avoid surgery.
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