Everyone should be able to access abortion care — whenever they need it

When someone decides to have an abortion, it should be safe, affordable, and free from punishment or judgment. When politicians impose time-based abortion bans founded on misinformation, they hurt the people who need care.

Every person and every pregnancy is different. The decision about whether, when, or how to become a parent is one of the most important life decisions we make. When people are free to make decisions that are best for their lives, without political interference or fear of punishment, families and communities thrive.

Once someone has made the decision to have an abortion, they should be able to access abortion care immediately. But many barriers, like abortion bans, high costs, and waiting periods, can get in the way.

People have abortions later in pregnancy for a variety of reasons — all of which are equally important and valid

Every person’s circumstances are different. Many people seeking abortion later in pregnancy may not have known they are pregnant until later on. For others, their lives and health circumstances may change significantly throughout a pregnancy, resulting in the need for later care. All while others who are aware of their pregnancy earlier on and are seeking abortion care may be met with barriers to care or legislative bans that prevent them from getting an abortion once they decide to do so. 

The Abortion Care Reality Project is here to provide you with the facts about abortion later in pregnancy.


Anti-abortion lawmakers pass laws to delay care

The strategy by abortion opponents is clear: put barriers in place that force people further into pregnancy and then ban access to abortion later in pregnancy. Anti-abortion politicians have created a web of barriers that push safe and affordable abortion care out of reach across the country. The harms of these bans fall mainly on disadvantaged communities: people with lower incomes, those in rural communities, young people who lack parental support, and Black, brown, Indigenous, and people of color.

Abortion bans don’t remove the need for abortion care, they just push care out of reach and cause harm.


Many people are unable to access desired abortion care 

 People seek abortions later in pregnancy for the same reasons they do earlier in pregnancy, but many are not able to access care once they decide to do so due to compounding delays.

Barriers to obtaining abortion care earlier in pregnancy include:

  • Systemic racism in health care (“The Fall of ‘Roe’ Was Driven by Our Country’s Original Sin: Anti-Blackness,” Rewire News Group)
  • Later discovery of pregnancy — 1 in 13.5 people discover they are pregnant after 12 weeks and 1 in 475 people discover their pregnancy after 20 weeks (WhoNotWhen.com)
  • Lack of abortion providers available to give care — 87% of U.S. counties do not have abortion providers (“Contraceptive Needs and Services, 2014 Update,” The Guttmacher Insitute) and over 275 clinics have closed in recent years (“For Millions of American Women, Abortion Access is Out of Reach,” New York Times)
  • Logistical factors, such as difficulty taking time off from work or school, caregiving responsibilities, and lack of access to transportation (“Texas Abortion Ban Poses New Challenges for Students,” Inside Higher Ed)
  • Limited financial resources to pay for the logistics to access abortion, as well as the procedure itself — 36% of people who have abortions later in pregnancy reported that the cost of the procedure was a barrier to accessing care (“Timing of steps and reasons for delays in obtaining abortions in the United States,” The Guttmacher Institute)
  • Misinformation about abortion options or about an individual’s pregnancylike gestational age bans (“Gestational Age Bans: Harmful at Any Stage of Pregnancy,” The Guttmacher Institute) and intentionally inaccurate information from fake clinics, known as “crisis pregnancy centers” (“Four Women Reflect on Traveling Out of State for Their Abortions,” Condé Nast Traveler)
  • Restrictive state laws — 43 states have laws or policies regarding abortion care that go beyond what is necessary to ensure patients’ safety (“State Bans on Abortion Throughout Pregnancy,” The Guttmacher Institute)
  • Disabilities and underlying health conditions (“A Voice for Choice,” Chronogram)
  • Harassment, intimidation, and violence at abortion clinic entrances — about 50% of people seeking an abortion report seeing protesters at clinics (“Introduction to the Turnaway Study,” Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health)

Abortion seekers often face more than one of these barriers at once, making it even more difficult to get an abortion.  


Any pregnant person may need an abortion later in pregnancy

 The same populations who seek abortion later in pregnancy at higher rates are disproportionately harmed by racism and structural inequity, including Black, brown, Indigenous, and people of color, young people, and people with lower incomes. These communities also often experience worse  health conditions and are more likely to be over-policed and criminalized for their pregnancy outcomes than white people.


Most states ban abortion at some arbitrary point in pregnancy

What bans on abortion actually do: Bans make underlying systemic inequities in wealth, education, and health care access even worse. They delay people from being able to access abortion care throughout pregnancy.

Forcing someone to carry a pregnancy against their will can have harmful and lasting consequences for them and their families.

  • Studies show there are serious negative physical and economic consequences for a person who is denied abortion care and their family (“Introduction to the Turnaway Study,” Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health).
  • People denied an abortion are more likely to experience subsequent poverty, to have insufficient funds to pay for basic living expenses, to have poorer health, and are more likely to stay in violent romantic relationships (“Introduction to the Turnaway Study,” Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health).
  • A person who has been denied an abortion is three times more likely to be unemployed than someone who was able to obtain abortion care (“Gestational Age Bans: Harmful at Any Stage of Pregnancy,” The Guttmacher Institute). People who are able to get abortion care are six times more likely to have positive life plans and to achieve them than those denied care (“The effect of abortion on having and achieving aspirational one-year plans,” BMC Women’s Health).

A person’s health and well-being, not political ideologies and interference, should guide important medical decisions throughout pregnancy.

Helpful Resources

The decision about whether, when, or how to become a parent is one of the most important decisions we make. Pregnant people are the experts about their own lives, families, and communities. When we are free to make decisions that are best for our lives, our families thrive and we build communities that give each other respect and dignity.

Abortion later in pregnancy is actually safer than childbirth. We’re here to counter the opposition’s lies about abortion later in pregnancy.


Stay up to date on the latest news around abortion access later in pregnancy, and what that means for our reproductive rights. 

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Abortion Care Reality Project