What is the difference between Plan B and the abortion pill? You may have been led to believe that these are similar, but they are different and work in your body in different ways. Let’s take a closer look at each to see how they are different.

Plan B:

  • Active medication: Levonorgestrel (Plan B) or Ulipristal acetate (Ella)
  • Available over the counter: Yes, but Ella still requires a prescription.
  • How it works: It can delay ovulation if taken before ovulation occurs, or if taken after ovulation it can stop the fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. It does not cause spontaneous abortion. If taken after implantation has occurred, it will have no effect on the pregnancy.2
  • When is it taken: Can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex. It is more effective if taken within 3 days of unprotected sex.

Abortion Pill:

  • Active medication: Mifepristone (find out more about this medication here)
  • Available over the counter: No, a doctor is the only person who can prescribe this medicine in the state of Georgia.
  • How it works: This medication blocks progesterone (a hormone needed to continue a pregnancy) in the uterus, causes the cervix to become soft, and the uterus to begin contracting. All of these effects lead to an induced abortion. 1
  • When is it taken: After implantation and up to 10 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period.


  • Plan B is available over the counter, taken within 5 days of unprotected sex, and is meant to prevent a pregnancy from occurring.
  • The abortion pill is taken after a pregnancy has been confirmed, must be prescribed by a doctor, and causes the pregnancy to end in an abortion.

If you have recently had unprotected sex, or just found out you are pregnant and thinking through your options, it is important to get your medical questions answered by a licensed healthcare provider. Appointments are available with our licensed medical professionals. In person & virtual appointments are available. Call or click today to set up your appointment and get your questions answered!\

Keely Darnell, BSN, MSN, RN, WHNP-BC
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

This post is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. If you have any concerns, please speak with a healthcare provider

Resources: 1. https://online.epocrates.com/drugs/244910/mifepristone/Monograph 2. Family Practice Notebook: Emergency Contraception