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Many Republicans perpetuate the myth that women are seeking abortions in the eighth and ninth months of pregnancy simply because they can, with Donald Trump and Ted Cruz both repeating this falsehood. This misconception has created a stigma around abortions later in pregnancy, making even Democrats and pro-choice advocates uncomfortable discussing it. However, abortions later in pregnancy, generally defined as those at or after 21 weeks, do happen for various reasons. These include women with wanted pregnancies receiving a fatal fetal diagnosis, young people who may not realize they are pregnant, and individuals facing life-changing circumstances that make it difficult to safely raise a child.

While the majority of abortions occur in the first trimester, with almost 93% taking place before the 13th week of pregnancy, a small percentage happen in the second and third trimesters. The subset of abortions in the third trimester is even smaller, around 1%. Despite the rarity of later abortion care, the stigma and misinformation perpetuated by anti-choice movements have created barriers for individuals seeking these procedures. Even though the 1% statistic is often used to debunk Republican rhetoric around later abortion care, it fails to provide a value-based defense of these procedures, which can be critical for individuals facing difficult circumstances.

The challenges of accessing later abortion care are highlighted by the story of Erika Christensen, who had to travel from New York to Colorado for an abortion at 32 weeks due to a fatal fetal diagnosis. The closure of abortion clinics and the repeal of Roe v. Wade have made it increasingly difficult for individuals to access all-trimester care. Partners in Abortion Care, a clinic in Maryland that offers all-trimester abortion care, sees patients from across the country and helps navigate the financial and logistical hurdles of later care. The costs associated with later abortion care, including the procedure, travel, and lodging, can be extremely high, making it inaccessible for many individuals without support.

Young people facing late discovery of a pregnancy may also require later abortion care, often due to lack of knowledge about their bodies or irregular menstrual cycles. Parental involvement is common, with minors bringing trusted adults to the clinic. The emotional complexity of later abortion care, along with the financial burdens, underscores the importance of providing comprehensive support for individuals seeking these procedures. As abortion funds diminish and the cost of care continues to rise, clinics like Partners in Abortion Care work to ensure that patients are not turned away due to financial constraints, emphasizing the need for empathy and understanding in discussions about later abortion care.

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