This myth is an outrageous statement, and very insulting to women (and doctors). Where abortion is legal, late abortions are only performed in cases where it is strictly medically necessary, in most cases when the fetus has severe abnormalities, or sometimes when the woman’s health or life is seriously at risk. Where abortion is restricted or illegal however, unscrupulous people may offer (unsafe) abortion to vulnerable, desperate women late in pregnancy.
Canada is the only democratic country in the world with no abortion laws, not even gestational limits. Yet, Canadian women rarely have abortions in the third trimester, and only for the above-noted reasons. Abortions after fetal viability are rare because:
- As long as abortion is legal and reasonably accessible, the vast majority of women will present as early as possible. Easy access equals early access. In most countries where abortion is safe and legal, at least 90% of abortions are performed in the first trimester. Most of the rest are done by 16 or 18 weeks, with only a very tiny number done in the third trimester. In Canada for example, the rate of abortions after 22 weeks LMP (after last menstrual period) is estimated to be 0.59% for 2015.
- Most abortion providers only perform abortions in the first or perhaps early second trimester. Only a handful of doctors have the ability and willingness to perform third-trimester abortions. No reputable doctor would perform such an abortion without a compelling reason and a supportive institution and medical team. Third-trimester abortions are complicated and difficult ordeals for both the woman and the doctor, and are never undertaken lightly.
Daily Beast: Why the Women Went to Kermit Gosnell Were Desperate (2013)
Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada:
• Benefits of Decriminalization (2013)
• Statistics – Abortion in Canada (2017)