A significant number of women need access to abortion care after the first trimester (after 12 weeks of pregnancy) for many different reasons.
While later abortions are a small percentage of all abortions performed in the U.S., over 35,000 women each year still have abortions at 16-20 weeks gestation, and over 11,000 women need abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Yet, there are no abortion services at all in 87% of U.S. counties, and the number of facilities offering later abortions is even more limited. According to the 2005 survey of abortion providers conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, the majority of abortions between 17 and 24 weeks are performed in a few freestanding abortion clinics.
A significant number of women need access to abortion care after the first trimester (after 12 weeks of pregnancy) for many different reasons. Some women do not realize that they are pregnant until later in their pregnancy, need more time to decide what to do about an unintended pregnancy, or experience barriers in accessing care because they cannot easily find a provider. For others, the time needed to raise the money to pay for the procedure or make travel arrangements to a provider in a distant location delays them into the second trimester. Some women seek abortions in the second trimester or later after learning about a genetic or health condition in the fetus, many of which are not diagnosed until after the first trimester.
For more information about why women seek later abortion see the ANSIRH fact sheet.