Late-Term Abortion 

Late-Term Abortion 

508830079 | Pressmaster | shutterstock.com

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

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

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

  • 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).

Fetal-Defect Abortion – Your Self-Assessment

Is this a personal matter to you right now? Answer three multiple choice questions about your current situation and receive an immediate evaluation.

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

A late-term abortion is understood as an abortion that takes place after the first trimester (i.e., after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy). 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.


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 country. The numbers indicate the time limit for abortion in weeks of gestation (LMP) according to the specific reason provided.

  • Region
    Regular Limit Fetal Defect Rape Mother's Health Mother's Life
    Alabama banned banned banned banned unlimited
    Alaska unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited
    Arizona 15 weeks 15 weeks 15 weeks 15 weeks Unlimited
    Arkansas banned banned banned banned unlimited
    California viability viability viability viability unlimited
    Colorado unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited
    Connecticut viability viability viability viability unlimited
    Delaware viability viability viability viability unlimited
    Florida 15 weeks unlimited 15 weeks 15 weeks unlimited
    Georgia 6 weeks 6 weeks extended 6 weeks unlimited
    Hawaii viability viability viability viability unlimited
    Idaho banned banned permitted banned unlimited
    Illinois viability viability viability viability unlimited
    Indiana 22 weeks 22 weeks 22 weeks 22 weeks unlimited
    Iowa 22 weeks 22 weeks 22 weeks 22 weeks unlimited
    Kansas 22 weeks 22 weeks 22 weeks 22 weeks unlimited
    Kentucky banned banned banned banned unlimited
    Louisiana banned permitted banned banned unlimited
    Maine viability viability viability viability unlimited
    Maryland viability viability viability viability unlimited
    Massachus 24 weeks 24 weeks 24 weeks 24 weeks unlimited
    Michigan 24 weeks 24 weeks 24 weeks 24 weeks unlimited
    Minnesota viability viability viability viability unlimited
    Mississippi banned banned permitted banned unlimited
    Missouri banned banned banned banned unlimited
    Montana viability viability viability viability unlimited
    Nebraska 22 weeks unlimited 22 weeks 22 weeks unlimited
    Nevada 24 weeks 24 weeks 24 weeks 24 weeks unlimited
    N. Hampsh. 24 weeks 24 weeks 24 weeks 24 weeks unlimited
    New Jersey unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited
    N. Mexico unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited
    New York viability viability viability viability unlimited
    N. Carolina 20 weeks 20 weeks 20 weeks 20 weeks unlimited
    N. Dakota 22 weeks 22 weeks 22 weeks 22 weeks unlimited
    Ohio 22 weeks 22 weeks 22 weeks 22 weeks unlimited
    Oklahoma banned banned banned banned unlimited
    Oregon unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited
    Pennsylv. 24 weeks 24 weeks 24 weeks 24 weeks unlimited
    Rhode Is. viability viability viability viability unlimited
    S. Carolina 22 weeks 22 weeks 22 weeks 22 weeks unlimited
    S. Dakota banned banned banned banned unlimited
    Tennessee banned banned banned banned unlimited
    Texas banned banned banned banned unlimited
    Utah 18 weeks 18 weeks 18 weeks 18 weeks unlimited
    Vermont unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited
    Virginia 26 weeks + 6 days 28 weeks 28 weeks 28 weeks unlimited
    Washington viability viability viability viability unlimited
    Wash. DC unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited
    W. Virginia banned banned banned banned unlimited
    Wisconsin banned banned banned banned unlimited
    Wyoming viability viability viability viability unlimited

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

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

  • While abortion is unrestricted throughout Canada, availability differs from state to state.

    Region
    Regular Limit Fetal Defect Rape Mother's Health Mother's Life
    Canada unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited
    Availability Availability Availability Availability Availability
    AB 24 w +6d 24 w +6d 24 w +6d 24 w +6d 24 w +6d
    BC 16 weeks 16 weeks 16 weeks 16 weeks 16 weeks
    MB 16 weeks 16 weeks 16 weeks 16 weeks 16 weeks
    NB 16 weeks 16 weeks 16 weeks 16 weeks 16 weeks
    NL 16 weeks 16 weeks 16 weeks 16 weeks 16 weeks
    NT 20 weeks 20 weeks 20 weeks 20 weeks 20 weeks
    NS 16 weeks 16 weeks 16 weeks 16 weeks 16 weeks
    PEI 12 weeks 12 weeks 12 weeks 12 weeks 12 weeks
    NU 19 w +6d 19 w +6d 19 w +6d 19 w +6d 19 w +6d
    ON 23 w +6d 23 w +6d 23 w +6d 23 w +6d 23 w +6d
    QC 24 weeks 24 weeks 24 weeks 24 weeks 24 weeks
    SK 18w +6d 18w +6d 18w +6d 18w +6d 18w +6d
    YT 12 w+6d 12 w+6d 12 w+6d 12 w+6d 12 w+6d

  • Region
    Regular Limit Fetal Defect Rape Mother's Health Mother's Life
    New Zealand 20 weeks 20 weeks unlimited unlimited unlimited
    South Africa 13 weeks 20 weeks unlimited 20 weeks unlimited

  • Region
    Regular Limit Fetal Defect Rape Mother's Health Mother's Life
    Austria see our Austrian page
    Brazil see our Portuguese page
    Germany

    see our German page

    Cambodia 12 weeks unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited
    Italy see our Italian page
    Mexico 15 weeks possible unlimited unlimited unlimited
    Netherlands 24 weeks 24 weeks unlimited 24 weeks unlimited
    Portugal see our Portuguese page
    Switzerland see our Swiss page
    Thailand 12 weeks 20 weeks 20 weeks 20 weeks unlimited

  • Legal parameters for abortions are usually given with the mother's well-being in mind. The risk of a late-term abortion is weighed against the trauma of the abortion indicator. Therefore, socio-economic reasons and general health concerns are commonly accepted as abortion indicators in early pregnancy only. Conversely, saving the mother's life usually trumps all late-term abortion restrictions.
  • The severity of fetal defects is usually considered. Abortions are often limited to defects that would drastically shorten the child's lifespan.

Birth Defect Abortion – Your Self-Assessment

Are you dealing with this subject on a personal level? Unsure which way to go? Take the self-assessment by answering three multiple-choice questions and receive an immediate evaluation.

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, or vacuum aspirations are used past the first 12 - 14 weeks.

Three methods are used for late-term abortions:

This is a surgical procedure using vacuum aspiration. 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.

Medications are used to start the process of labor and delivery. If the fetus has passed the threshold of viability, an injection is given to induce fetal demise.

The baby is delivered feet first, with the head remaining inside the woman’s body. Scissors are inserted in the back of the baby’s neck creating a hole. The baby’s brain is then suctioned out and the head collapsed, reducing the head circumference for removal.

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

Pregnant After the First Trimester and So Many Concerns…

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…

You are 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 2018, 6.9% of abortions in the US were performed in the second trimester, and 1% of abortions were performed within the third trimester (CDC, MMWR, 2020, 69 (7)).

You may also like:

Disclaimer:

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.

Did you find the information in this article helpful?