How Far Along Can You Get an Abortion in the United States?
For whatever reason, you are facing the decision about whether or not to have an abortion. It is heartbreaking decision no one wants to face.
You may wonder how far along can you get an abortion. You may have questions about the methods of abortion. Most of the issues you have are best addressed to your doctor, who is capable of explaining the process the best. However, we can take a look at how far along you can get an abortion.
Check Your States’ Laws
In the United States, no state entirely bans abortions. According to the federal legislation, abortions are legal. However, many states have placed limitations as to the cut off time for it to happen. The restrictions make sense because many doctors believe abortion should not happen after the baby is viable outside of the womb.
Around 43 states have tried to pass laws limiting late-term abortions. Some of these states had their restrictions turned down by the courts. They need to have health provisions for the mother and allow doctors to make the call based on if terminating a pregnancy is medically necessary.
Currently, 19 states have restrictions based on the viability of the fetus. Viability refers to the ability to live outside of the womb. It typically occurs between 22 to 24 weeks of gestation. Twenty-two states and counting have restrictions based on the week of pregnancy.
- For example, 15 of the 22 states limit abortions after 22 weeks of gestation. A few states allow abortions up to 24 weeks.
- Third trimester, or late term abortions, are not legal in a large number of states unless it is a dire medical emergency.
Babies, at this point in pregnancy, are viable outside of the womb. The mother has had plenty of time for an elective abortion. If a medical problem arises, most doctors can opt to deliver the baby early, giving it a chance at life, rather than prefer a late term abortion. After 24 weeks, you will have to see a specialist for an abortion. Most clinics, like Planned Parenthood, don’t perform them in the clinic.
If you are between 4 and ten weeks pregnant, you have the option of a medical abortion, discussed further below. Surgical abortions go up to 14 to 18 weeks in clinics around the country. Most abortions in the United States are performed before 13 weeks pregnant.
Many mothers note that they feel the first movements between 13 to 15 weeks. You are likely to grow attached to the baby if you wait to feel movement.
Head to the Doctor
Once you have looked at your state’s laws, you need to decide how far along you are in pregnancy. Even if you chart your pregnancy, most doctors will want to perform an ultrasound to determine the exact gestation age. Once you know for sure, it will give you a better idea if it is too late to get an abortion.
You may be on the fence about having one. Parenting can be scary if you aren’t prepared. It is hard to imagine some of the difficulties many face like sleepless nights, but talking out the reasons why you are considering an abortion is very therapeutic and helpful. Your doctor is there to talk with you.
While you are at the doctor's, they are likely to discuss the risks associated with an abortion. Even though abortions are deemed safe, there are still risks, just like with any medical procedure. The risks increase are the fetus grows, which is one of the reasons why doctors advocate that you make the decision sooner rather than late.
Unfortunately, some of the risks could lead to later issues with your fertility, so carefully weigh your choices. Here are some of the risks they may tell you.
- Permanent uterine damage
- Perforated uterus
- Anesthesia complications
- Retained uterine contents that need a second procedure
- Organ damage
- Damage to the cervix
What about the Abortion Pill?
If you are less than ten weeks pregnant, you can still take the abortion pill. These medicines – mifepristone and misoprostol – are designed to end a pregnancy safely and efficiently.
The first pill – mifepristone – is given at clinic, by the doctor. It blocks your body’s progesterone. You are typically given antibiotics as well.
The second pill – misoprostol – is taken 24 to 48 hours later. It causes cramping and heavy bleeding to empty the uterus. The process will remind you of a very heavy period. If you have ever had an early miscarriage, it is very similar.
You can have a medical abortion up to 70 days, or 10 weeks, after the first day of your last period. Even if it has been 71 days, you cannot take the abortion pill and will have to opt for an in-clinic abortion. It is a practical choice, working 98% of the time in most circumstances.
Many feel as if it is less invasive and scary than the in-clinic option. Deciding early on that you want to terminate the pregnancy opens up the possibility for this much less scary choice.
The decision to have an abortion is a personal choice. It is no one else to decide except for you and the father.
Unlike decades ago, abortions are safe medical procedures. There are risks that you should discuss with a medical provider.
Most states allow abortions up to 24 weeks, but you have to check with the state where the abortion takes place. Every state has a different law. It could be sooner than 24 weeks.
Even though it is deemed safe, you shouldn’t wait to make the decision. Ultimately, as the weeks go by, the fetus gets closer to the age of viability. Many anti-abortion proponents question the safety of the abortion for the mother.
It is important to remember that the risks increase as you get further along in pregnancy. Reach out to your local abortion clinic or your gynecologist for help finding a safe provider.