Late-Term Abortion 

Late-Term Abortion 

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

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

  • A late-term abortion is an abortion that is performed after the state mandated threshold. In most countries, any abortion after the first trimester is considered late-term.
  • In most areas, exceptions allow for abortions until birth, such as rape, incest, and the health of the mother.
  • Late-term abortions require methods other than those used within the first 12 weeks.

📖 This article provides you with further 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 to be an abortion that takes place after the threshold restriction for abortion. 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 that has a threshold restriction for late-term abortions, specific reasons must be provided which allow for an exception.

 

Conditions for Late-Term Abortions 

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

This table provides you with information on late term abortion exceptions in your country. Numbers are given in weeks of gestation (LMP).

 Region 

Indicator

 

 None 

 Socioeconomic 

 Mother's Health 

 Fetal Defect 

 Rape/Incest 

 Life of Mother 

South Africa 

13

20

20

40

20

40

 Region 

Indicator

 

 None 

 Socioeconomic 

 Mother's Health 

 Fetal Defect 

 Rape/Incest 

 Life of Mother 

 Cambodia 

12

12

40

40

40

40

Thailand 

12

12

20

20

20

40

 Region 

Indicator

 

 None 

 Socioeconomic 

 Mother's Health 

 Fetal Defect 

 Rape/Incest 

 Life of Mother 

 Australia 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACT

40

40

40

40

40

40

NSW 

22

22

22

40

22

40

NT 

n/a

14

22

22

22

40

QLD 

n/a

22

22

22

22

40

SA 

n/a

n/a

28

28

28

40

TAS 

16

16

16

16

16

40

VIC 

n/a

24

24

24

24

40

WA 

20

20

20

20

20

40

 New Zealand 

20

20

20

20

20

40

 Region 

Indicator

 

 None 

 Socioeconomic 

 Mother's Health 

 Fetal Defect 

 Rape/Incest 

 Life of Mother 

Austria

See our Austrian page 

Germany

See our German page

GB

12

12

24

40

12

40

Italy

See our Italian page 

Portugal

See our Portuguese page 

Rep. Of Ireland

12

12

24

40

12

40

Netherlands

24

24

24

40

24

40

Northern Ireland

12

12

24

40

12

40

Switzerland

See our Swiss page

 Region 

Indicator

 

 None 

 Socioeconomic 

 Mother's Health 

 Fetal Defect 

 Rape/Incest 

 Life of Mother 

Canada

40

40

40

40

40

40

Mexico

12

12

possible

40

40

40

40

See our USA page 

 Region 

Indicator

 

 None 

 Socioeconomic 

 Mother's Health 

 Fetal Defect 

 Rape/Incest 

 Life of Mother 

Brazil

See our Portuguese page 

  • Legal parameters for abortions are usually given with the wellbeing of the mother in mind. The risk of a late term abortion is weighed against the trauma of the abortion indicator. Therefore, socioeconomic reasons, as well as general health concerns are commonly accepted as abortion indicators in early pregnancy only. Conversely, saving the life of the mother 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 lifespan of the child.

 

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.
  • Oftentimes, an informed consent is required. In this case, a state-mandated counselor will present you with information on all your options in order 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, which are performed after the first trimester, require their own set of methods. Neither medical abortions via the abortion pill, Mifegene, nor D&Cs or vacuum aspirations are used past the first 12 - 14 weeks.

Three methods are used for late-term abortions:

Trimester

Method

Second


D&E
Dilation and Evacuation
(Uterine Suction Curettage)

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.
 

Second and Third


Induction Abortion
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.

D&X 
Dilation and Extraction 

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 whole. The baby’s brain is then suctioned out and the head collapsed, reducing the head circumference for removal. 
(This form of abortion is illegal in most regions.)

  • 94-98% of second trimester abortions and 92% of abortions under 20 weeks are performed via D&E (UpToDate 2021).
  • 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 whether to have a late-term abortion or not. 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 made 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 were at the receiving end of some harsh judgement. 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 all 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)).

 

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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 accuracy of the numbers provided. 

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