After the First Trimester... Late-Term Abortion 

Late-Term Abortion 

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What Is a Late Termination of Pregnancy, and When Is It Legal?

  • Late-term abortion refers to any abortion performed after the first trimester. This is a colloquial rather than a medical term.
  • In most areas, exceptions allow for abortions until birth, such as rape, incest, and the mother's health.
  • Late-term abortions require methods other than those used within the first 12 weeks.

📖 This article provides information on late-term abortions (e.g., gestational limits and abortion methods).

What Are Late-Term Abortions, and How Far Along in Pregnancy Can You Have One?

A late-term abortion is understood as a termination of pregnancy performed after the first trimester (i.e., after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy). According to CDC's Abortion Surveillance 2021 statistics, 6.6% of US abortions are performed after week 13. Theoretically, abortions are possible up until birth. A distinction is usually made between:

  • Second-trimester abortions, ending at viability* at around 24 weeks,
  • And third-trimester abortions, starting around week 25.

*Viability is the stage at which survival outside the womb is possible.

When Is It Legal to Have a Late-Term Abortion?

If you live in an area with a threshold restriction for late-term abortions, specific reasons must be provided that allow for an exception.

Conditions for Late-Term Abortions

If a doctor deems an abortion necessary to save the mother's life, abortion is permitted in most countries, even where abortion is illegal. Other indications that may allow for a late abortion are socioeconomic, the health of the mother, fetal anomalies, rape, or incest.

This table provides you with information on late-term abortion exceptions in your region. The numbers indicate the time limit for abortion in weeks of gestation, counting from your last menstrual period (LMP), according to the specific reason provided.

  • RegionRegular Limit Fetal Defect Rape Mother's Health Mother's Life
    Arizona15 Weeks LMP15 Weeks LMP15 Weeks LMP15 Weeks LMPUnlimited
    Arkansasbannedbannedbannedpermitted beyond viabiltyunlimited
    Florida6 Weeks LMPunlimitedextendedextendedunlimited
    Georgia6 Weeks LMP6 Weeks LMPextended6 Weeks LMPunlimited
    Idahobannedbannedpermitted bannedunlimited
    Indianabanned20 weeks 14 weeks if under 16; 10 weeks if 16 or olderpermittedunlimited
    Iowa22 Weeks LMP22 Weeks LMP22 Weeks LMP22 Weeks LMPunlimited
    Kansas22 Weeks LMP22 Weeks LMP22 Weeks LMP22 Weeks LMPunlimited
    Massachus24 Weeks LMP24 Weeks LMP24 Weeks LMP24 Weeks LMPunlimited
    Michigan 24 Weeks LMP24 Weeks LMP24 Weeks LMP24 Weeks LMPunlimited
    Nebraska12 Weeks LMPpermitted12 Weeks LMP12 Weeks LMPunlimited
    Nevada24 Weeks LMP24 Weeks LMP24 Weeks LMP24 Weeks LMPunlimited
    N. Hampsh.24 Weeks LMP24 Weeks LMP24 Weeks LMP24 Weeks LMPunlimited
    New Jerseyunlimitedunlimitedunlimitedunlimitedunlimited
    N. Mexicounlimitedunlimitedunlimitedunlimitedunlimited
    New Yorkviabilityviabilityviabilityviabilityunlimited
    N. Carolina12 Weeks LMPpermittedpermitted12 Weeks LMPunlimited
    N. Dakotabannedbannedbannedbannedunlimited
    Ohioviabilityviabilityviabilityunlimited (12/08/23)unlimited
    Pennsylv.24 Weeks LMP24 Weeks LMP24 Weeks LMP24 Weeks LMPunlimited
    Rhode Is.viabilityviabilityviabilityviabilityunlimited
    S. Carolina6 Weeks LMPpermittedpermittedpermittedunlimited
    S. Dakotabannedbannedbannedbannedunlimited
    Texasbannedbannedbanned bannedunlimited
    Utah18 Weeks LMP18 Weeks LMP18 Weeks LMP18 Weeks LMPunlimited
    Virginia26w + 6d LMP28 Weeks LMP28 Weeks LMP28 Weeks LMPunlimited
    Wash. DCunlimitedunlimitedunlimitedunlimitedunlimited
    W. Virginiabannedbannedbannedbannedunlimited

  • Region Regular Limit Fetal Defect Rape Mother's Health Mother's Life
    Great Britain 24 Weeks LMP unlimited 24 Weeks LMP 24 Weeks LMP unlimited
    Northern Ireland 24 Weeks LMP unlimited 24 Weeks LMP 24 Weeks LMP unlimited
    Ireland 12 Weeks LMP 15 Weeks LMP 12 Weeks LMP 24 Weeks LMP Unlimited

  • Region Regular Limit Fetal Defect Rape Mother's Health Mother's Life
    ACT unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited
    NSW 22 Weeks LMP unlimited 22 Weeks LMP 22 Weeks LMP unlimited
    NT 14 Weeks LMP 23 Weeks LMP 23 Weeks LMP 23 Weeks LMP Unlimited
    QLD 22 Weeks LMP 22 Weeks LMP 22 Weeks LMP 22 Weeks LMP unlimited
    SA (2022) 22w + 6d LMP unlimited 22w + 6d LMP unlimited unlimited
    TAS 16 Weeks LMP 16 Weeks LMP 16 Weeks LMP 16 Weeks LMP Unlimited
    VIC 24 Weeks LMP 24 Weeks LMP 24 Weeks LMP 24 Weeks LMP unlimited
    WA 20 Weeks LMP 20 Weeks LMP 20 Weeks LMP 20 Weeks LMP unlimited

  • While abortion is unrestricted throughout Canada, availability differs from state to state. Here you can find out until when abortion is offered in your region:

    Region Available Until
    Alberta 20 Weeks LMP
    British Columbia 24w + 6d LMP
    Manitoba 16 Weeks LMP
    New Brunswick 16 Weeks LMP
    Newfoundland & Labrador 16 Weeks LMP
    Northwest Territories 20 Weeks LMP
    Nova Scotia 16 Weeks LMP
    Nunavut 19w + 6d LMP
    Ontario 23w + 6d LMP
    Prince Edward Island 12 Weeks LMP
    Quebec 24 Weeks LMP
    Saskatchewan 18w + 6d LMP
    Yukon 12w + 6d LMP

  • Region Regular Limit Socio-economic Reasons Fetal Defect Rape / Mother's Health Mother's Life
    New Zealand 20 Weeks LMP 20 Weeks LMP unlimited unlimited unlimited
    South Africa 13 Weeks LMP 20 Weeks LMP unlimited 20 Weeks LMP unlimited

  • Europe:

    Click here for an overview of abortion regulations in each European country. You can also read further information on our Profemina pages for these countries:

    Region Regular Limit Fetal Defect Rape Mother's Health Mother's Life
    Cambodia 12 Weeks LMP unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited
    Mexico 15 Weeks LMP possible unlimited unlimited unlimited
    Netherlands 24 Weeks LMP 24 Weeks LMP unlimited 24 Weeks LMP unlimited
    Thailand 12 Weeks LMP 20 Weeks LMP 20 Weeks LMP 20 Weeks LMP unlimited

For more information, go to When is an Abortion Performed to Save the Life of the Mother?

Abnormal findings or detection of disability would make you feel like your world has been flipped upside down. Dreams and plans come to a standstill as the situation takes on an enormous weight.

It is natural to desire your child to be healthy—this shows you care!

Maybe you just had a stressful experience at a prenatal examination and came upon this article hoping to find clear answers.

🩺 Facing the question of whether to have a fetal defect abortion or not? – Take the Self-Assessment!

🕰 If you are facing this decision, you probably still have time to envision several different scenarios of what your future could look like.

However, many women say they feel like they are running a marathon—battling their hopes and fears. Your medical provider may have also given the impression that you must decide and act quickly.

But, especially now, take the time to carefully consider every possible step.
Ask yourself: What do I want? Who has my back? What are my long-term goals?

Process of Late-Term Abortions

Should a woman fall within the spectrum of exceptions and choose to pursue a late termination of pregnancy, the following steps can be expected:

  • It is usually necessary for a doctor to diagnose a medical indication for abortion.
  • Frequently, informed consent is required. In this case, a state-mandated counselor will present you with information on all your options to ensure that your decision is given due deliberation.
  • Unless urgent medical intervention is necessary, state-regulated waiting periods of three to seven days are often implemented.
  • A blood test and an ultrasound are often performed at a preliminary appointment.

Late-Term Abortion Methods

Late terminations of pregnancy, performed after the first trimester, require their own methods. Neither medical abortions via the abortion pill, D&Cs, nor vacuum aspirations are used past the first 12–14 weeks.

Three methods are available for late-term abortions:

  1. Dilation and Evacuation – D&E (Uterine Suction Curettage)

    This is a surgical procedure using vacuum aspiration performed in the second trimester. A suction catheter removes the amniotic fluid. Using forceps, the fetus is then dismembered and extracted in pieces from the womb. Finally, suction and curettage is performed to ensure that all fetal material has been removed.

    • 94-98% of second-trimester abortions, of which 92% are under 20 weeks, are performed via D&E (UpToDate 2022).

  2. Induction Abortion

    Medications are used to start the process of labor and delivery. If the fetus is too young to survive outside the womb, it usually dies during the birthing process. Once the fetus has reached 22 weeks and could potentially be born alive, a potassium chloride injection is given to stop its heartbeat. This leads to fetal demise.

    This procedure can be performed in the second and third trimester of pregnancy.

    • Induction abortions account for most other second and third-trimester abortions (2-6% of late-term abortions). Unlike the other abortion methods, which are outpatient, inductions usually require a two- to three-day hospital stay.

  3. Dilation and Extraction – D&X

Before using this procedure in the US, the fetus must be given an injection to stop its heartbeat. It is then delivered feet first, with the head remaining inside the woman’s body. Scissors are inserted in the back of the fetus' neck creating a hole. The baby’s brain is then suctioned out and the head collapsed, reducing the head circumference for removal.

This procedure can be performed in the second and third trimester of pregnancy.

🏥 Abortion Methods: What do I need to know? — Take the Test!

Pregnant After the First Trimester and Searching for Answers…

You may be facing the decision of whether to have a late-term abortion. Your pregnancy may have taken an unexpected turn. This is something you could not have foreseen. Or perhaps you only just found out you were pregnant. Since you are already beyond the first three months of pregnancy, you are now considering a late termination of pregnancy…

Several aspects play a role in making a late-term abortion more difficult than an early termination:

  • The further along you are in the pregnancy, the greater the risks and side effects.
    For more details, go to Risks and Side Effects of Late-Term Abortions.
  • Knowing that the baby is close to, or even beyond, the point at which it could survive outside the womb also adds a greater emotional component.

🛤 Are you concerned whether an abortion could affect you long term? — Take the Test

You are probably under immense pressure right now. Many women in your shoes have had the experience that the people around them felt at a loss for words and did not know how to respond.

You were probably also met with a sense of helplessness, given unsolicited advice, or received some harsh judgment. In all likelihood, your worries have fallen on deaf ears.

You have not been given a safe place to voice your concerns, fears, and aspirations.

Our desire for you is that you would not be left stranded but that you would receive the care you deserve. That is why we have compiled resources that are tailor-made for your situation.

The Stats: Late-Term Abortions

It is estimated that 10–15% of abortions worldwide happen after the first trimester (Reproductive Health Matters, 2010).

In 2021, 5.7% of abortions in the US were performed in the second trimester, and 0.9% of abortions were performed within the third trimester (CDC Report 2023).

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While we strive to provide you with the most up-to-date information possible, abortion regulations are constantly shifting. Profemina takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the numbers provided.

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