Although few Americans support legalized abortion in the third trimester, the number seems to be increasing. A 2022 poll found 20% of respondents in support – up from only 13% in 2018. One possible reason for this increased support is the spread of pro-abortion misinformation.
Misconceptions about third-trimester abortion
For example, the Washington Post recently quoted Jen Villavicencio of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists saying, “When abortions occur in the third trimester, most often something has gone terribly wrong in the pregnant person’s life or pregnancy.”
“Terribly wrong” is vague – an opinion that could mean different things to different readers. The implication, though, is that these are desperate, extreme situations.
New study reveals the true reasons third-trimester abortions are done
A new study contradicts this narrative.
The pro-abortion group ANSIRH, which describes itself as “Providing the evidence you need to advance reproductive well-being,” says the study concluded that:
The reasons people need third-trimester abortions are not so different from why people need abortions before the third trimester…
[T]he circumstances that lead to someone needing a third-trimester abortion have overlaps with the pathways to abortion at other gestations.
The study itself doesn’t give a detailed breakdown of women’s reasons or any concrete numbers. Instead, it claims that people have abortions in the third trimester for one or more of the following reasons (which it divides into two categories):
- She didn’t know she was pregnant earlier.
- She had difficulty arranging an abortion.
- The baby had a health problem or disability.
None of the abortions in the study were sought due to the mother’s physical health or life-endangering condition.
Third-trimester abortions are never needed for health reasons
In the third trimester, an abortion takes three days to commit. The baby is killed in the womb (usually by lethal injection) on the first day. In the case of a life-threatening pregnancy, the doctor could end the pregnancy immediately by C-section, or just deliver the baby without killing him or her.
You can watch a former abortionist explain a third-trimester abortion procedure below.
According to a 1998 article in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (emphasis added):
Except in extraordinary circumstances, maternal health factors which demand termination of the pregnancy can be accommodated without sacrifice of the fetus, and the near certainty of the independent viability of the fetus argues for ending a pregnancy by appropriate delivery.1
This was almost 25 years ago. Medicine is now even more advanced.
Abortions of babies with disabilities
The study mentioned four cases in which the baby had a disability. If these were the only cases, that would mean abortions for this reason were 14.3% of the total – far fewer than most people think.
One mother dehumanized her disabled baby by saying, “There was nothing to say this child has any possibility of having even the capability of existing as a baby, as a child, as a person.”
Someone with a disability is a person and is not subhuman.
Another mother said her child had a “very bad prognosis.” The third mother cited “several serious fetal health issues.” There is no way to know how serious these problems were because the article gives limited information and no specific medical diagnoses.
The fourth woman said her child would die in utero or “if he did make it to birth, it was going to be a lot of surgeries and we did not know what his quality of life would be at that point.”
At 22 weeks, she requested an abortion from her doctor, but he refused to approve it because he once delivered a 22-week preemie and didn’t feel her baby should be killed. It took her until the third trimester to arrange an abortion elsewhere, even though abortion on demand is legal for any reason at 22 weeks (and beyond) in 29 states.
Abortion affordability and late discovery of pregnancy
The study also presented cases where the pregnancy wasn’t discovered until late in gestation and/or abortion was hard to arrange.
One woman discovered her pregnancy early but “took no immediate action toward obtaining an abortion.” She had been sexually assaulted years before and was in a fragile emotional state. She had a third-trimester abortion, which might only worsen her emotional problems.
Lack of money was another factor. The expensive prices abortion facilities charge made it difficult for poor women to afford abortions.
One woman couldn’t afford an abortion and started prenatal care. Then, her (now) ex-boyfriend got a work bonus, and she had an abortion in her third trimester.
Another woman was homeless. The abortion facility took her money, killed her baby, sent her back into her situation, leaving her to fend for herself. In contrast, a pregnancy resource center would have walked with her and given her real help.
Undercover video reveals the truth
A Live Action undercover video taken inside an abortion facility in Washington, D.C., also shows that third-trimester abortions on healthy mothers with healthy babies are happening regularly in the United States.
The undercover woman was 28 weeks pregnant. She was physically healthy with a healthy baby and didn’t give a serious reason for wanting the abortion.
She has the following conversation with the abortion worker:
Patient: I’m just feeling very self-conscious cuz I feel like you guys probably don’t see a lot of people as far along as I am, except for, like, medical emergencies.
Abortion worker: No, you’re fine… We see a lot of people as far – further than you.
Later in the video, there is this exchange:
Patient: You guys have, like, this [is] what you do, you have experience this far along?
Abortion Worker: Yes. Yes. We do.
Patient: Yeah, it’s not just at like 22 or 18 [weeks]or something.
Abortion Worker: No. No. We specialize in this far along.
The abortion worker makes it clear that her facility regularly does third-trimester abortions for non-health-related reasons.
The study and the undercover video disprove the claim that third-trimester abortions are only done when something is “terribly wrong.”
JEG Epner, HS Jonas, DL Seckinger “Late-Term Abortion” Journal of the American Medical Association 1998; 280 (8): 724 – 729
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