Washington Post publishes letter to editor on late-term abortions that’s full of falsehoods

late abortions

A letter to the editor of the Washington Post — published in response to a November 17th op-ed written by Alexandra DeSanctis — made several false claims regarding late-term abortion. DeSanctis, a writer with National Review, took to Twitter to try and set the facts straight, writing, “The @washingtonpost has published a letter to the editor responding to my op-ed from last weekend. The letter says ‘there is no such thing as abortion on demand in the third trimester, and to claim there is, or that anyone supports it, is a lie.’…”

Since the Post didn’t bother to fact check the claims made in this letter to the editor, Live Action News will.

Image: Alexandria DeSanctis on WAPO letter regarding late term abortion (Image Twitter)

Alexandria DeSanctis on WAPO letter regarding late term abortion (Image Twitter)

FALSE CLAIM: “Abortion on demand” in the third trimester does not exist.


Late-term abortion facilities say otherwise. Exhibit A, from abortionist LeRoy Carhart‘s website:

Image: LeRoy Carhart third trimester abortions Website

LeRoy Carhart third trimester abortions Website

Abortionist Warren Hern‘s business website refers to him as a “Late Term Abortion Specialist”:

Image: Warren Hern uses term later abortion

Not all states require abortion data, and many do not break the numbers down by gestational age and reason.

A Live Action News analysis of data from state reporting agencies that require stats by gestation revealed that:

  • In three states, 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions accounted for 13-17% of all abortions.
  • In 12 states, 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions accounted for 11-13% of all abortions.
  • In 19 states, 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions accounted for 6-10% of all abortions 

A sample of data from handful of states that report abortions in the third trimester are as follows:

  • Florida had one “elective” third trimester abortion in 2017 and one in 2018.
  • Between 2006 and 2016, Idaho reported five abortions committed in the third trimester.
  • In 2014 alone, Iowa reported one abortion after 29 weeks and hundreds between 14 to 28 weeks.
Image: Reported third trimester abortions Iowa 2014

Reported third trimester abortions Iowa 2014

Michigan reported the following numbers for abortions from 25-28 weeks:

The state also reported these numbers for abortions at 28 or 29 weeks and later:

According to Guttmacher’s report, 25% of abortion facilities offered abortions up to 20 weeks and 10% up to 24 weeks.

There are facilities which provide abortions even later in gestation.

Planned Parenthood commits elective abortions up to the 24th week and opposes late-term abortion restrictions.

READ: Roughly 80% of late-term abortions are elective. Here’s how we know.

FALSE CLAIM: “Women who need abortions in late pregnancy have been told… their baby has some condition … that will make it impossible for that baby to live.”


The Congressional Research Service quotes pro-abortion researcher Diana Greene Foster, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health which trains abortionists. She says that fetal anomaly is likely a “small minority of later abortion”:

“[t]here aren’t good data on how often later abortions are for medical reasons.”Based on limited research and discussions with researchers in the field, Dr. Foster believes that abortions for fetal anomaly “make up a small minority of later abortion” and that those for life endangerment are even harder to characterize. Many of the women whose lives are at risk would be treated under emergency circumstances at a hospital rather than at a dedicated abortion clinic, making numbers more difficult to obtain, according to Dr. Foster.

According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, “a study of late-term abortions in 2013 (Fisher, Kimport) in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, a publication of the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, the authors acknowledge that ‘data suggests that most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment.'”

A teaching module published by an abortion training program at the UCSF Bixby Center reveals that physical health is almost never given as a reason for why a woman aborts after the first trimester.

Use for USF Only Image: Eleanor Drey on reasons women obtain late second trimester abortion

Eleanor Drey on reasons women obtain late second trimester abortions


One study cited the case of a “26‐year‐old Latina woman in New Mexico, who had an abortion at 28 weeks’ gestation, said, ‘I was afraid of my boyfriend finding out, and I went [to the abortion clinic] once he was in jail.'”

Live Action previously documented the fact that late-term abortions occur for reasons of personal choice. The video below is a compilation of a Live Action undercover investigation into several U.S. late-term abortion facilities. More on that investigation here.


FALSE CLAIM: No reputable doctor would abort a viable fetus.


  • The abortion industry has admitted that abortion later in pregnancy is frequently committed on healthy babies.
  • Late-term abortionist Warren Hern, author of “the nation’s most widely used textbook on abortion standards and procedures,” declared, “I say every pregnancy carries a risk of death,” and “I will certify that any pregnancy is a threat to a woman’s life and could cause grievous injury to her physical health.” (Source: Live Action News)
  • Live Action News previously documented that, according to recently unearthed testimony from a 2015 court case, Planned Parenthood considers all abortions to be “medically necessary.”
  • In 2008, during the Feminist Majority Foundation’s annual Women’s Leadership Conferencelate-term abortionist George Tiller conceded that late-term abortions are legal under the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court decisions: “[…W]e are able to use the wide definition and the full implementation of Roe v Wade decision which allows us to do post viability terminations of pregnancy. When read appropriately, the Roe versus Wade decision and the Bolton decisions says that, ‘A physician may use his judgement in determining all factors of a woman’s health, physical health, mental health, emotional health, family health, age of the patient, safety and well being.’ That’s the definition in the Roe v. Wade and the Bolton decision… The Bolton decision goes onto say that they understand that this allows wide latitude for the women…” Tiller later admitted that he had done abortions “up to the day before delivery.”
  • Tiller’s own staffer admitted the majority of his abortions were on healthy babies.

FALSE CLAIM: Abortionists are forbidden (ethically and legally) to commit late term abortions.


Roe v. Wade and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton made it clear that abortions in all months of pregnancy for “health reasons” are legal. “Health” is an ambiguous term which may include a host of reasons, including familial, financial, and emotional health. Doe v. Bolton ensures abortion can be done for virtually any reason. The text of Doe reads: “We agree with the District Court, 319 F. Supp., at 1058, that the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age – relevant to the wellbeing of the patient. All these factors may relate to health….”

The truth is, it is well-documented that there is abortion on demand in the third trimester.

Live Action News previously documented:

  • Abortion staffers testified to having witnessed late-term abortions committed for non medical reasons.
  • Abortion providers have admitted late-term abortions are committed on healthy babies.
  • Live Action’s undercover cameras have captured chilling admissions of abortionists committing late-term abortions for non-medical reasons.
  • Undercover recordings by Abortion Free New Mexico and Priests for Life captured a late-term abortion facility staffer telling a “healthy woman posing as 25 weeks pregnant” that they would “euthanize the fetus.”
  • Others have called late-term abortion facilities and recorded casual reasons for scheduling later abortions.
  • Babies are sometimes born alive during later abortions.
  • Late-term abortionist Susan Robinson told, “What is the ethical difference between doing an abortion at 29 and 32 weeks? Is there a meaningful ethical difference? Can I justify it? Will I have to justify it, and to whom? It comes down to a question of safety, many times….”
Image: Southwesters Women's abortions thru 32 weeks

Southwestern Women’s abortions through 32 weeks

The media knows that late-term abortions are often committed on healthy babies. All too often instead of reporting the facts, the media chooses to publish the abortion lobby’s talking points, as documented during the debate over so-called partial birth abortion.

Just because these abortions occur less frequently does not mean they do not happen. Tragically, Guttmacher’s latest report (2017) reveals that over 100,000 (100,891) abortions took place in second trimester or later and 11,ooo at 21 weeks or later, when children are able to survive outside the womb.

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