Post-Viability Abortions

  • The chance of the fetus living outside the uterus (viability) increases as the gestational age increases. The doctor must tell you the probable gestational age of the fetus at the time the abortion would be performed.
  • If the fetus is viable, an abortion may only be done if your doctor reasonably believes that it is necessary to prevent your death or to preserve your health.
  • If an unborn child is viable, the physician must take all reasonable steps in keeping with good medical practice to preserve the life and health of the unborn child, provided it does not pose an increased risk to the life or health of the woman.
  • If the baby is removed alive, the attending physicians have the legal obligation to take all reasonable steps necessary to maintain the life and health of the child.
  • If an abortion is performed after the doctor has determined that the fetus is viable, the following steps must be taken:
    • the physician who terminates the pregnancy must certify the medical reasons making performance of the abortion necessary and the probable health consequences if the abortion is not performed;
    • the physician must select a procedure that is most likely to allow the unborn child to live; and
    • a second physician must be in attendance to provide immediate medical care to the child born as a result of the pregnancy termination.

Medical Emergencies
The physician is not required to use the abortion method that would provide the best opportunity for the baby to live if that physician determines in his or her medical judgment that use of that method poses a significantly greater risk to the woman's life or permanent damage to any of the woman's major bodily functions. In the case of a medical emergency, a physician is also not required to comply with any condition listed above which, in the physician's medical judgment, he or she is prevented from satisfying because of the medical emergency.

Go to the emergency room, or call the clinic or doctor that performed the abortion if:

  • heavy bleeding occurs (2 or more pads/hour),
  • pain is severe or not controlled by pain medication,
  • you have fever,
  • you have difficulty breathing or shortness of breath,
  • you have chest pain, or
  • you are disoriented.

Most women can return to their daily activities within a day or so after a procedure. It is important that you return to your doctor for a checkup two to three weeks after an abortion.