Understanding Abortion Later in Pregnancy

If you’re visiting this page, you probably received a flyer entitled “Understanding Abortion Later in Pregnancy.” This flyer was published by the Pro-Life Action League to share the facts about late-term abortion with the American people.

Below, you will find citations for the factual claims made in the flyer. You can order copies of this flyer from the Pro-Life Action Store.

  • Over 11,000 abortions are performed past 20 weeks in the U.S. each year. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice abortion research organization, abortions past 20 weeks account for 1.3% of all U.S. abortions. In 2017, the most recent year for which statistics are available, there were a total of 862,320 abortions in the U.S., of which 1.3% is 11,210.
  • Late-term abortion is more than four times as common as abortions performed in cases of rape or incest. According to the Johnston Archive, women list rape or incest as the primary reason for their abortion in less than 0.5% of cases, while late-term abortions account for 1.3% (see above).
  • The reasons for the majority of late-term abortions are no different from the reasons women give for their abortions much earlier in pregnancy. According to a study from the University of California, San Francisco, “data suggest that most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment,” and a Congressional Research Service Report found that, “abortions for fetal anomaly ‘make up a small minority of later abortion’ and that those for life endangerment are even harder to characterize.” Most women seeking late-term abortions cite financial concerns, trouble in domestic relationships, and other personal reasons as their primary motivations.
  • Most Americans oppose abortion later in pregnancy. 71% of Americans oppose abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy, and 66% believe these abortions should be banned, according to a 2019 Marist poll. In addition, a 2018 poll by the Gallup Corporation found that 87% of Americans oppose abortion after the 2nd trimester.
  • Although several states have prohibited late term abortions in the wake of the 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court decision, it remains legal in several other states. In fact, the United States is one of only seven countries in the world in which elective abortion after 20 weeks is legal. This claim was fact-checked by the Washington Post and received the rare “Geppetto Checkmark,” indicating a fact that is true even though it seems unbelievable.
  • Descriptions of late-term abortion in the flyer are sourced from this article on HealthLine.com and this paper from the Society of Family Planning on the use of digoxin to kill and soften the body of the fetus before the abortion procedure.

What can you do to fight late-term abortion?

There is a great deal of misinformation out there about late term abortion. Most Americans think these abortions are rare, and only done in extreme circumstances. They’re shocked when they learn the truth.

So the first thing you can do to stop late term abortion is to help educate the public. Order copies of the flyer “Understanding Abortion Later in Pregnancy” to share with your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and fellow churchgoers.

Next, be prepared to offer resources to anyone you know who may be considering abortion later in pregnancy, including parents who have gotten the bad news of a poor prenatal diagnosis.

Finally, support state and federal legislation that would ban or limit late term abortion, such as the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Contact your state and federal legislators to express your support for such measures, and use the form below to sign up for email alerts from the Pro-Life Action League to keep you plugged in with the latest efforts.