Social media posts spark outrage about “late-term abortions”

Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom shared a video which sparked viral conversations about third trimester abortions. Newsom’s social media post included a video in which a news anchor states that he has “never heard of anyone” getting an abortion at 9 months pregnant. In response to Newsom’s post, several commenters shared a video clip from a 2019 radio interview in which Virginia Governor Ralph Northam answers a hypothetical question about what would happen if a pregnant person requested an abortion during labor. The clip, which was taken out of context, has caused outrage on social media about “late-term abortions” and what happens if babies are born with a low probability of survival.

Recommendation: These posts demonstrate persistent public confusion about when, why, and how often abortions happen later in a pregnancy. If directly debunking the claim that abortions can happen after birth, messaging may emphasize that no state has ever permitted abortions after birth. Additionally, abortions at or after 21 weeks represent only 1 percent of all abortions in the U.S., and these types of abortions typically occur when there are serious medical concerns, as well as barriers that delay a pregnant person’s ability to obtain an abortion, such as waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds, parental notification laws, laws that bar health insurance from covering abortion, and travel. Staying up to date on trending narratives and preparing for questions about abortion laws in your state is recommended. For more information about abortion gestational limits in specific states, check out this fact sheet.