What is the definition of late-term abortion?
Medical experts disagree. The most conservative definition says any abortion after 12 weeks of gestation is late-term. Others say only abortions performed after fetal viability, which means the ability of the fetus to survive outside the uterus, should be defined as late-term. Generally, viability begins between the 22nd and 27th week of pregnancy. How are late-term abortions performed? The most common process is called dilation and extraction. A doctor inserts laminaria sticks into the woman’s cervix. These sticks, often made from a species of kelp, absorb liquid and expand. This dilates the cervix and promotes labor. The doctor injects a chemical into the amniotic cavity to kill the fetus and extracts the remains with surgical instruments. Complications can include excessive blood loss, infection, perforation of the uterus, and psychological difficulties. Are late-term abortions legal in Texas? Yes, but not after the 26th week of gestation — unless having the baby would jeopardize th