Medical abortion

World Health Organization resources

World Health Organization, Safe Abortion: Technical and Policy Guidance for Health Systems. (2nd ed., 2012)
This guidance presents strategies for improved clinical care for women undergoing procedures, and the appropriate placement of necessary services. Medical abortion is discussed as one of the procedures and guidance is provided on regimens and health system requirements. The book’s annexes present guidance to further reading, and international consensus documents on safe abortion.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends medical methods of abortion for first trimester abortions.  It has established that “medical methods of abortion have been proved to be safe and effective,” and highlights that “registration and distribution of adequate supplies of drugs for medical abortion […] are essential for improving the quality of abortion services, for any legal indication”.  It recognizes that medical abortion has proven acceptable in low-resource settings since it is relatively inexpensive; in comparison to surgical abortions, it is often safer for the woman; and it can reduce costs for the health care system overall and that medical methods can be safely provided by midlevel providers.
WHO recognizes the crucial role of misoprostol in reproductive health care and has incorporated recommendations for its use into 4 reproductive health guidelines focused on induction of labor, prevention and treatment of postpartum hemorrhage, and management of spontaneous and induced abortion.
World Health Organization Model List of Essential Medicines (17th Edition,  March 2011)
Recommends to States essential medicines that should be available to the public. The list is regularly updated and includes mifepristone and misoprostol for use in lawful termination of pregnancy.  Essential medicines are defined as “those that satisfy the priority healthcare needs of the population,” and that “are intended to be available within the context of functioning health systems at all times in adequate amounts, in the appropriate dosage forms, with assured quality, and at a price the individual and the community can afford.” The list is meant to “guide the procurement and supply of medicines in the public sector,” including “schemes that reimburse medicine costs. Available in English and French.
World Health Organization, Unsafe Abortion: Global and regional estimates of the incidence of unsafe abortion and associated mortality in 2008. Sixth edition (2011).
Medical abortion is safe.  Even illicit use of medical abortion is safer than other methods used illicitly.