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"It is a very great poverty to decide that a child must die that you might live as you wish." — Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Late Term Abortion Laws:

Among the 152 most populous countries in 1998, 54 either had late term abortion laws that banned late term abortions entirely or permitted them only to save the life of the pregnant woman. Another 44 generally banned late-term abortions after a particular gestational age: 12 weeks for Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Rep., Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Greece, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Rep., Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Norway, Russian Fed., Slovak Rep., Slovenia, South Africa, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Yugoslavia; 13 weeks for Italy; 14 weeks in Austria, Belgium, Cambodia, Germany, Hungary, and Romania; 18 weeks in Sweden; viability for the Netherlands and to some extent the United States; and 24 weeks for Singapore and the United Kingdom excluding Northern Ireland.

U.S. Supreme Court decisions on abortion, including Roe v. Wade, allow states to impose tighter restrictions on post-viability abortions than those performed during the earlier stages of pregnancy. In addition, the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Gonzales v. Carhart specified that Congress has the power to ban certain late-term abortion techniques, "both previability and postviability".

As of April 2007, 36 states had bans on late-term abortions that were not facially unconstitutional (i.e. banning all abortions) or enjoined by court order, but some are believed to be unconstitutional by pro-choice organizations.

The Supreme Court has held that bans must include exceptions for threats to the woman's life, physical health, and mental health. Four states allow late-term abortions only when the woman's life is at risk. Another four states allow late-term abortions when the woman's life or physical health is at risk, but use a definition of health that pro-choice organizations believe is impermissibly narrow. Assuming that one of these state bans is constitutionally flawed, then that does not necessarily mean that the entire ban would be struck down: "invalidating the statute entirely is not always necessary or justified, for lower courts may be able to render narrower declaratory and injunctive relief."

Thirteen states prohibit abortion after a certain number of weeks' gestation — usually 24 weeks. The U.S. Supreme Court held in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services that a statute may create "a presumption of viability" after a certain number of weeks, in which case the physician must be given an opportunity to rebut the presumption by performing tests. Therefore, those 13 states must provide that opportunity. However, because this provision is not explicitly written into the laws of these 13 states, as it was in the Missouri law examined in the Webster case, pro-choice organizations believe that such a state law is unconstitutional "to the extent that it prohibits pre-viability abortions."

Ten states require a second physician to approve and nine states have laws that require a second physician to be present during late-term abortion procedures in order to treat a fetus if born alive. The Court has held that a doctor's right to practice is not infringed by requiring a second physician to be present at abortions performed after viability in order to assist in saving the life of the fetus.

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