Schedule Today

Late Term Abortion Definition and Information

Although not a hard and fast definition, late term abortion usually refers to an abortion done after 24 weeks of gestation or into the third trimester of the pregnancy. However, if you are researching late term abortion, it’s likely there are other answers you’re seeking – more than simply learning its definition. Are these questions you may be wondering about with regard to late term abortion?

  • How far into the pregnancy can I get an abortion?
  • What are the abortion options and procedures later into a pregnancy?
  • How do the possible complications or risks of a late term abortion compare with an abortion performed earlier in the pregnancy?
  • How readily available is later term abortion?
  • How do the costs compare?

Facing an unplanned pregnancy is hard enough under any circumstances. If you’re looking at the potential for it to be a late term abortion, it may be even more difficult. In this article, we’ll address some of the basics related to late term abortion. Besides this information, there are other ways we are able to offer assistance to you. Avenue Women’s Center is here to meet you where you are, and take this journey with you. We have been in operation for over thirty-five years with information, services and support for Chicagoland women in challenging pregnancy situations like yours. Our experienced client advocates are committed to serve you with nonjudgmental care and respect in a free, private and confidential pregnancy consultation. Many of our other services are free of cost to you as well. We hope you will contact us for your appointment today.

Now, back to those follow up questions.

How far into the pregnancy can I get an abortion?

This varies from state to state. In Illinois, state law places certain restrictions on abortions past the point of viability. That’s the time by which the fetus would be developed enough to survive outside the uterus. This is generally understood to be about 24 weeks’ gestation (the later part of the second trimester). However, Illinois is one of twenty-two states that allow for exceptions past viability to preserve the life or health of the mother.

What are the abortion options and procedures later into a pregnancy?

Abortions may be performed by Dilation and Curettage (D & C) up until 16 weeks, in the second trimester of pregnancy (Months 4 – 7). This surgical procedure is also known as suction aspiration or suction curettage. The cervix is dilated and a long plastic tube is inserted into the uterus. The tube is connected to a suction device which draws out the contents of the uterus. A surgical instrument called a curette may be used to scrape the lining of the uterus to be certain all tissue is removed.

After 16 weeks’ gestation, a procedure known as Dilation and Evacuation (D & E) is an option. This is similar to the D & C; however, the procedure will include dilation of the cervix and forceps may be used to remove tissue.

Although rarely performed, Induction Abortion may be utilized to terminate in the second and third trimesters. The amniotic sac is injected with a solution of salt water, urea, or potassium chloride. Labor is medically induced to terminate the pregnancy. In an induction abortion, the woman does experience the stages of labor and delivery.

Pain medications and local anesthetics are generally available for these surgical procedures. The non-surgical, medical abortion with RU-486, the abortion pill, is not allowed after ten weeks into the pregnancy.

How do the possible complications or risks of a late term abortion compare with an abortion performed earlier in the pregnancy?

Most medical procedures involve a certain level of risk. Surgical procedures in particular carry with them the possibility for infection, bleeding, damage to tissue or organs, and other problems. The potential for complications, medical risks, and adverse reactions associated with abortion do increase the farther the pregnancy progresses.

How readily available is later term abortion?

As noted earlier, some states are more restrictive in their abortion laws. Except for special circumstances, many do not allow abortion after the age of viability; others restrict abortion after 22 weeks’ gestation, holding that the fetus can feel pain at that point. In addition to legal constraints, some doctors and hospitals decline to provide abortion services later into the pregnancy due to the higher risk and other considerations. If you are seeking a source for late term abortion, you will need to look into the laws of your state and the practices of providers in your area.

How do the costs compare?

Because of the higher risk levels and less availability of providers, the cost for a late term abortion may be significantly higher than that for an earlier abortion.

We hope this has been helpful to you with some of your initial questions about late term abortion. At the same time, we realize the information here may have raised other questions about your pregnancy options. It is a lot to process, and can feel very heavy. If you are in the Chicagoland area, we invite you to reach out to us with whatever needs or concerns you are dealing with. Every woman’s situation is unique, still that doesn’t mean you have to go through this alone. To support you as you make the best decision you can for yourself, we are ready to listen, answer questions, share information and walk with you through this challenging time. Please contact us by phone, text, email or chat. We look forward to serving you.


  • Guttmacher Institute. (2017, September). State Laws and Policies: State Policies on Later Abortions. Retrieved from:
  • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). (2015, June). Prenatal Development: How Your Baby Grows During Pregnancy. Retrieved from:
  • American Pregnancy Association. (2017, April). Abortion Procedures. Retrieved from:
  • American Pregnancy Association. (2017, January). Surgical Abortion Procedures. Retrieved from:
  • Contemporary OB/GYN. (2013, November). Options for Second-Trimester Termination. Retrieved from:
  • WebMD. (2015, October). Induction Abortion. Retrieved from:
  • Verywell. (2017, August) Premature Birth and Survival Statistics. Retrieved from:

Reviewed by Patricia Kuenzi, APN-CNP, MSN, ANP, PNP.

The information provided here is general in nature.  It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center.  If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention.  Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.