Apr 11, 2024 - Health

Mapped: How late in pregnancy states allow abortions

How late into pregnancy abortion is legal
Data: KFF, Guttmacher Institute, Axios research; Map: Simran Parwani/Axios Visuals

State laws surrounding abortion have been in flux since since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade nearly two years ago.

The big picture: The battle over abortion access remains in some states, where anti-abortion and pro-choice advocates are engaged in a tug-of-war over specific legalities and limits of the procedure.

  • A six-week ban on the procedure will take effect in Florida in May, but abortion rights will be back on ballots in the state this November.
  • In Arizona, the state Supreme Court in April upheld a near-total abortion ban, pending a lower court ruling. But a possible November ballot measure would protect abortion in the state up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Meanwhile, more than 1 million abortions took place in the U.S. health care system last year. That's the highest number in more than a decade, per the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights.

Zoom in: States vary on the gestational limits of abortion, but 14 states have laws in effect banning nearly all abortions starting at fertilization.

  • Six weeks: South Carolina and Georgia are the only states that have laws in effect banning abortions when cardiac activity has been detected in an embryo, which is at around six weeks.
  • 12 weeks: Nebraska and North Carolina are the two states that currently ban abortion at the 12-week mark.
  • 15 weeks: Arizona and Florida currently ban abortion at 15 weeks. But a statewide ban on most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy will take effect in Florida in May. Arizona's near-total ban, meanwhile, is on hold temporarily, which could allow time for new legal challenges.
  • 18 weeks: Utah is the only state that currently bans abortion at 18 weeks of pregnancy.
  • 20 weeks: Iowa bans abortion starting at 20 weeks post-fertilization.
  • 22 weeks: Kansas and Ohio ban abortions at 22 weeks of pregnancy.

In Wisconsin, abortions are banned at 20 or more weeks postfertilization (22 weeks after the last menstrual period).

Zoom out: More than half of states have restrictions in place only at or after viability, or have no limit at all.

  • 24 weeks or later: Four states ban abortions starting at 24 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Viability: More than a dozen states ban abortions after the fetus is considered viable. Some laws that don't specify a limit say it's up to the abortion provider's "judgment" to determine whether a fetus is viable.
  • Third trimester: Virginia is the only state that prohibits abortions starting in the pregnancy's third trimester, which starts at around 25 weeks, per Guttmacher.

No limit: Six states and Washington, D.C., do not impose any term restrictions.

Of note: Most states with restrictions have exceptions, including to preserve a pregnant person's life or health, though they are often narrowly defined.

Go deeper: Where abortion is on the ballot in November

Go deeper