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To protect mother's life/physical health
To protect mother's life/health
Allowed/No restrictions
To protect mother's life

Late Term Abortion Laws by State 2024

Late Term Abortion Laws by State 2024

Abortion is the removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus to end a pregnancy. Generally, there are two ways to end a pregnancy via abortion: an in-clinic procedure or the abortion pill. For many moral, ethical, religious, and political reasons, abortion is controversial in many countries.

Abortion is a relatively common procedure in the United States. According to the Guttmacher Institute, there were about 862,000 abortions in the U.S. in 2017. This is a 19% decline from 2011 when 1,058,000 were performed. Analyses have shown that abortion restriction, while harmful at an individual level, were not the main reason for the decline in abortions between 2011 and 2017. The decline in abortions seems to be part of a broader decline in pregnancies, evident in fewer births during the same period. The states with the highest abortion rates are the District of Columbia, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Florida.

Abortion Laws in the United States

Abortion laws permit, prohibit, restrict, or regulate the availability of abortion.

The Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade states that governments cannot regulate a woman’s decision to have an abortion before the viability of the fetus. Viability is defined by the Supreme Court as the “the capacity of meaningful life outside the womb, albeit with artificial aid” and not just “momentary survival.”

After viability, which is around 24-28 weeks, no government can impose a regulation that favors a fetus’s life over a mother’s. Despite this decision made by the Supreme court, the nation has divided into passion pro-life and pro-choice camps.

In recent years, some states have been proposing legislation to further restrict abortion earlier than fetus viability. States have recently introduced the “heartbeat” bill, which prohibits abortions after six weeks of pregnancy or when a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

In many cases, in the United States and around the world, restrictive abortion regulations do not always lead to lower abortion numbers. In some cases, abortion rates may actually be higher; however, restrictions could mean that more unsafe, illegal abortions are being performed. This causes complications and higher risks, such as death, for the mother.

States that Allow Late-term Abortions

A late-term abortion, also called a late-termination of pregnancy, refers to the termination of pregnancy by induced abortion during a late stage of gestation. “Late” is not precisely defined and medical publications have stated different thresholds, typically ranging from 20 to 28 weeks or around the fetus reaches viability.

Currently, 43 states prohibit some abortions after a certain point in pregnancy. Several states, such as California, Arizona, and New York, use fetus viability as the cutoff, while some other states use the third trimester (around 28 weeks). Other states use a specified number of weeks post-fertilization, after a women’s last menstrual cycle, or after gestation. These weeks range anywhere from six to 20 weeks.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, as of August 1, 2020, 24 states prohibit some abortions at a specific gestational age.

States that allow for late-term abortions with no state-imposed thresholds are Alaska, Colorado, District of Columbia, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Vermont.

While other states have threshold restrictions for late-term abortions, all states have exceptions and allow late-term abortions when pregnancy threatens a woman’s health, physical health, and/or life. The exception of “physical health” permits abortion when the woman suffers from a “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” In the following states, the pregnancy must threaten the mother’s life to permit a late-term abortion: Idaho, Michigan,and Rhode Island. In the following states, the pregnancy must either threaten the mother’s life or health to permit a late-term abortion: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Virginia, and Washington.

In the following states, the pregnancy must either threaten the mother’s life or physical health to permit a late-term abortion: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

In Arkansas and Utah, late-term abortions are permitted in cases of rape or incest. Late-term abortions are almost permitted in case of fetal abnormality. In Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia the law applies to a lethal abnormality.

Late Term Abortion Laws by State 2024

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Late Term Abortion
AlabamaTo protect mother's life/physical health
AlaskaAllowed/No restrictions
ArizonaTo protect mother's life/health
ArkansasTo protect mother's life/physical health
CaliforniaTo protect mother's life/health
ColoradoAllowed/No restrictions
ConnecticutTo protect mother's life/health
DelawareTo protect mother's life/health
FloridaTo protect mother's life/physical health
GeorgiaTo protect mother's life/physical health
HawaiiTo protect mother's life/health
IdahoTo protect mother's life
IllinoisTo protect mother's life/health
IndianaTo protect mother's life/physical health
IowaTo protect mother's life/physical health
KansasTo protect mother's life/physical health
KentuckyTo protect mother's life/physical health
LouisianaTo protect mother's life/physical health
MaineTo protect mother's life/health
MarylandTo protect mother's life/health
MassachusettsTo protect mother's life/health
MichiganTo protect mother's life
MinnesotaTo protect mother's life/health
MississippiTo protect mother's life/physical health
MissouriTo protect mother's life/physical health
MontanaTo protect mother's life/physical health
NebraskaTo protect mother's life/physical health
NevadaTo protect mother's life/health
New HampshireAllowed/No restrictions
New JerseyAllowed/No restrictions
New MexicoAllowed/No restrictions
New YorkTo protect mother's life/health
North CarolinaTo protect mother's life/physical health
North DakotaTo protect mother's life/physical health
OhioTo protect mother's life/physical health
OklahomaTo protect mother's life/physical health
OregonAllowed/No restrictions
PennsylvaniaTo protect mother's life/physical health
Rhode IslandTo protect mother's life
South CarolinaTo protect mother's life/physical health
South DakotaTo protect mother's life/physical health
TennesseeTo protect mother's life/physical health
TexasTo protect mother's life/physical health
UtahTo protect mother's life/physical health
VermontAllowed/No restrictions
VirginiaTo protect mother's life/health
WashingtonTo protect mother's life/health
West VirginiaTo protect mother's life/physical health
WisconsinTo protect mother's life/physical health
WyomingTo protect mother's life/physical health
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