“Crucially, there is no real definition or medical designation for what constitutes a late-term abortion, so it’s used somewhat haphazardly. Medical experts also criticize the term for implying that abortions are taking place after a pregnancy reaches “term” at 37 weeks—which does not happen—or a point in pregnancy referred to by obstetricians as “late term,” up to 41 weeks—which also does not happen.

But the squishiness of the term means it has become an effective weapon, easily evoking an ill-defined evil as it leaks into broader vernacular. And as a result, even erstwhile abortion rights supporters often show an urge to explain “late-term” abortions as needing justification. You’re familiar with the milieu, which goes something like this: Abortions after 15 weeks are rare, and these are heartbreakingcases where the pregnancy was wanted and something went horribly wrong.”

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