Wondering about abortion pills and COVID-19 vaccines? Here’s what we know so far.

COVID-19 Vaccines and Abortion Pills

By B.Okeyo

When it comes to COVID-19 vaccines and women’s reproductive health, so much conflicting information is out there; however, none of it seems conclusive. Additionally, as the vaccines have only just been developed, there is a lack of empirical research to support some claims that are being purported.

From history, we know that when it comes to issues affecting women, our needs tend to be placed on the back burner. The current pandemic has brought some of these existential issues even more to the surface. While we continue to mark the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, we all need to reflect on the thought that women have reported feeling left out of important rhetoric. All this, while posturing corporations continue to prioritize celebrations without actively solving the plights that women continue to face in the workplace, at home, and now medically, compared to their male counterparts [1].

Today, the perpetual predicament continues. The fight for equal pay, the rise in domestic violence, and the regression of domestic roles (as a result of schools’ closures) have been exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic. Most women have been forced to take time off work, or even quit their jobs altogether, to take care of domestic affairs. To add to the ongoing crises, we now have to contend with the lack of research about the interaction of the COVID vaccines and abortion pills. Much has been debated regarding abortion pills and whether abortion is indeed health care. As you may know, at safe2choose we feel strongly that reproductive rights are human rights, and thus believe abortion should be treated as health care. It’s not a surprise, however, that little can be said about the effects of the COVID vaccine on the reproductive health of women or about the increase in sexualized violence across many big cities in the world, therefore necessitating the need for safe abortions. We are still fighting for the rights of women with disabilities, for example, who often find themselves independent relationships and in the hands of sexual perpetrators, according to Maria Leonor Beleza and the Drafting Group on Discrimination against Women with Disabilities [1]. Anyway, I digress.

While some of these issues will take a long time to be resolved, all we ask is that medical research into the interaction of abortion pills with the COVID-19 vaccines is accelerated. If we are being candid, we all know that abortions are here to stay, despite the unforeseeable amount of time before there is any conclusive medical evidence regarding the interaction between these vaccines and abortion pills. There’s also the not-so-little matter of human rights being women’s rights after all.

In the meantime, we had a chat with our medical consultant from Carafem in Chicago, who answered our questions regarding what we should know about abortion pills and their interaction with the COVID-19 vaccines because we still need to move on with our lives. So here’s what we know so far:

Can I use the abortion pills (Misoprostol and Mifepristone) after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?

Based on how the vaccine and abortion pills work, there is no contraindication to using the abortion pills after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. While there have been no direct studies about the effect of the vaccine (or any other vaccine for that matter) on abortion pills, there is little reason to suspect any interference of one with the other. It is expected that you may experience some side effects in the first 24–48 hours after receiving the vaccine. Some of these side effects include fever, body chills, and aches, and fatigue, amongst others, and they vary from person to person. The CDC recommends that vaccine recipients talk with their healthcare providers if they have a history of severe allergic reactions [2] (e.g. anaphylaxis) to any other vaccine or injectable therapy (e.g. intramuscular, intravenous, or subcutaneous). Key considerations to inform these discussions include the unknown risks of developing a severe allergic reaction versus the benefits of vaccination.

How soon after receiving the vaccine can I consume the abortion pills?

We recommend using the abortion pills (Misoprostol and Mifepristone) 24–48 hours after receiving the vaccine. This is to avoid the potential side effects of the vaccine adding to the potential side effects from the abortion pills.

I need to take the abortion pills right away. What should I expect?

Sometimes, your gestational age and other life factors mean that you need to urgently take the abortion pills. If you are in this situation, you can use the abortion pills right away. However, it is important to be aware of the added side effects if they occur.

So while the rest of the world engages in moral discourses on whether some approved vaccine makers have used fetal cell lines in any of the stages of vaccine development (that’s a story for another day and untrue in most vaccine cases, if you are wondering), and whether the fetal cell lines are in the injection you receive from your doctor (also not true in most vaccine cases), there has been some contention about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is an adenovirus vector vaccine [3].

We at safe2choose.org continue to provide you with safe abortion information that involves abortion with pills [4] or an in-clinic abortion [5]. In addition, our trained female counselors are available for e-mail counseling at info@safe2choose.org.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author.

[1] Beleza, Maria. “Discrimination against women with disabilities.” Council of Europe Publishing, 2003, rm.coe.int/16805a2a17. Accessed April 2021.

[2] “Management of Anaphylaxis at COVID-19 Vaccination Sites.” Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021, www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/clinical-considerations/managing-anaphylaxis.html. Accessed April 2021.

[3] Edward H. Livingston, MD1, et al. “The Johnson & Johnson vaccine for COVID-19.” JAMA Network, 2021, jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2777172. Accessed April 2021.

[4] “Abortion with Pills.” safe2choose, safe2choose.org/abortion-pills/. Accessed April 2021.

[5] “Guide to a Safe Manual Vacuum Aspiration Abortion (MVA).” Safe2choose, safe2choose.org/manual-vacuum-aspiration-mva-procedure/ . Accessed April 2021.