Why Do People Have Third Trimester Abortions?

A new study by a pro-choice author answers this question.

Sarah Terzo
5 min readJul 24, 2022


Photo By Anna Subbotina at Canva

Although few Americans support legalized abortion in the third trimester, the number seems to be increasing. A 2022 poll found 20% of respondents in support of abortion up until birth — up from only 13% in 2018.

One possible reason for this increased support is the widespread misinformation about why third trimester abortions are done.

Misconceptions about third trimester abortions

For example, the Washington Post recently quoted Jen Villavicencio of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists saying, “When abortions occur in the third trimester, most often something has gone terribly wrong in the pregnant person’s life or pregnancy.”

“Terribly wrong” is vague — an opinion that could mean different things to different readers. The implication, though, is that these are desperate, extreme situations.

New study reveals the true reasons third trimester abortions are done

A new study contradicts this narrative. The study was done by Katrina Kimport, who has written a pro-choice book about abortion access.

The pro-choice group ANSIRH, which describes itself as “Providing the evidence you need to advance reproductive well-being,” says the study concluded that:

The reasons people need third-trimester abortions are not so different from why people need abortions before the third trimester…

[T]he circumstances that lead to someone needing a third-trimester abortion have overlaps with the pathways to abortion at other gestations.

The study itself, which was done by surveying a group of women who had third trimester abortions, doesn’t give a detailed breakdown of their reasons or any concrete numbers or percentageds.

Instead, it claims that pregnant people have abortions in the third trimester for one or more of the following reasons (which it divides into two categories):

  • They didn’t know she was pregnant earlier.
  • They had difficulty arranging an…



Sarah Terzo

Sarah Terzo is a board member of the Consistent Life Network and Rainbow Pro-Life Alliance (formerly the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians).