Women who consider undergoing medical abortion or sometimes called abortion pill undergo an ultrasound test first before the procedure. However, a new study has suggested that the ultrasound may no longer be necessary.

Medical abortions in the U.S. are allowed as long as it is within nine weeks of the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period. Most of the time, medical abortions are done by taking the drug mifepristone or Mifeprex. This is later on followed by misoprostol that causes womb contraction.

There have been no official guidelines that state the need for an ultrasound prior to the procedure. However, since ultrasound is considered the most precise way to determine how far along a pregnancy is, it has been a common step for providers before performing medical abortion. Almost all women who look for the abortion pill at Planned Parenthood clinics have to undergo ultrasound.

What makes ultrasound undesirable is the added cost to medical abortion. In the U.S., it costs from $350 to $650 or may be higher depending on the tests and exams that must be done. This was according to Planned Parenthood.

In some parts of the world, ultrasound may not even be available. This makes medical abortion not within reach by women who need it. This was according to the researchers of the study, headed by Hillary bracken of Gynuity Health Projects in New York City. It is a non-profit research organization that aims to focus on services that has something to do with reproductive health.

Bracken and her team tried to test whether estimation of a woman’s last menstrual period together with other physical exams are enough to determine her eligibility to undergo medical abortion using mifepristone and misoprostol. The said study was published in BJOG, an obstetrics journal. The study included 4,484 women who were seeking for abortion pill that can be obtained from the 10 family planning clinics in the U.S., including eight Planned Parenthood clinics.

Medical aid providers such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants and nurse-midwives asked the women for their estimate date of the last menstrual period and later on performed physical examinations. After this, the women underwent ultrasound.

All in all, at total of 1.6 percent of women gave an inaccurate estimate that is the standard nine weeks. However, all of them except for one were within the 11th week of their last menstrual period. This makes the effectiveness of the medical abortion without ultrasound still high and would not cause any risks of complications.The study proves that medical abortion is 97 percent effective. The effectiveness of medical abortion may be lessened once it has been past the ninth week of pregnancy. The reduction of its efficacy, however, is still gradual.