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August 26, 1998

The Continuing Need for Late Abortions

JAMA. 1998;280(8):747-750. doi:10.1001/jama.280.8.747

LATE ABORTION is the most controversial aspect of the most divisive social issue of our times.1 The debate has been strident, confusing, and at times, misleading.2 This article reviews the epidemiology of late abortion, defined herein as abortions performed 21 or more completed weeks from the beginning of last menses (this gestational age interval is the highest used in federal reports on abortion3,4); discusses the frequency, methods, safety, and indications of late abortions; and describes controversies concerning the upper gestational age limit and attempts to prohibit a specific abortion method.