Introduction and provision of medical abortion: a tale of two countries in which technology is necessary but not sufficient

Contraception. 2011 Apr;83(4):322-9. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2010.08.009.


Introduction: Medical abortion is one of the most important advances of the last century in the field of reproductive health. However, the introduction and use of the technology varies widely among countries.

Study design: The article examines the commercial, political, regulatory, and legislative history of the introduction of mifepristone-misoprostol in France and the United States.

Results: While the introduction of the technology has been deemed a "success" in each country, existing patterns of medical research, abortion service provision and health care financing came to alter the uptake and use of medical abortion in the two countries.

Conclusion: Proof of safety, efficacy and patient acceptability are in themselves not enough to assure successful introduction and widespread use of medical innovations. However, the case studies illustrate that there is more than one way to arrive at expansion of new technologies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Abortion, Induced / methods*
  • Female
  • France
  • Humans
  • Mifepristone / administration & dosage*
  • Misoprostol / administration & dosage*
  • Pregnancy
  • United States


  • Misoprostol
  • Mifepristone