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Reproductive Rights

Dear Amy,

How many abortions are third trimester abortions, and how is access to such abortions restricted? I am very pro-choice and would like to strengthen my arguments with these facts.



Dear L.A.H.,

To get the actual number of abortions that are third trimester, check the Alan Guttmacher Institute or with Planned Parenthood Federation of America. I do know that it is a very small percentage and that the majority of these happen because it is medically necessary for a woman to have this late of an abortion in order to save her life or because the fetus is so badly damaged.

Access to third-trimester abortions is restricted mainly because of the prohibitive costs of them. An increasing number of women don't have access to medical insurance, which makes this procedure further prohibitive to many women. The procedure itself is very costly because it has to happen in a hospital, not in a clinic, where 1st and 2nd trimester abortions can take place. A further cost is transportation--which is an issue for rural women.

A further threat to such procedures is a Congressional bill that would ban "so-called partial birth abortions." Congress has proposed such a bill in the past three sessions, but Clinton has refused to sign it. Bush will likely sign it if such a bill makes its way to him. This bill would ban a certain procedure -- and this is the procedure mostly used in late-term abortions, but not solely. Also, this would be the first time that Congress enacted a bill that would go against a recommendation by the American Medical Association, which is that such a procedure is safe and necessary.

I hope this helps - and thanks for being so committed to the issue.


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