There is no exact definition of “late term abortion.” Even within the abortion provider community, there is no agreement. Many people, however, generally refer to a “late term abortion” as one that occurs after the 20th week of gestation.
One thing that is agreed upon is that late term abortions are relatively rare. For example, the most recent statistics indicated that 6.2% of all abortions were conducted from 13 to 15 weeks, 4.2% from 16 to 20 weeks, and 1.4% at or after 21 weeks. And, in 1997, it was estimated that the number of abortions in the U.S. past 24 weeks was 1,032 per year.
In 1987, the Alan Guttmacher Institute asked 420 women who had abortions after 16 weeks why they had not obtained an abortion earlier. The results were as follows:
71% Woman didn’t recognize she was pregnant or misjudged gestation
48% Woman found it hard to make arrangements for abortion
33% Woman was afraid to tell her partner or parents
24% Woman took time to decide to have an abortion
8% Woman waited for her relationship to change
8% Someone pressured woman not to have abortion
6% Something changed after woman became pregnant
6% Woman didn’t know timing is important
5% Woman didn’t know she could get an abortion
2% A fetal problem was diagnosed late in pregnancy
Generally speaking, in the United States a woman can receive an abortion up to 24 weeks with not much difficulty (once she finds the abortion doctor). Of course, abortion providers would prefer that women obtain abortions earlier rather than later as the later abortions are more difficult emotionally for the woman and more complicated for the abortion doctor.
As for post-viability abortions, there are only a handful of abortion doctors who will perform this surgery. To obtain a list of those physicians, consult www.abortion.com