Partial-Birth Abortion Law & Legal Definition


Partial-birth abortion is a late-term abortion. It is an abortion technique used in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, with the goal of delivering a fetus that is not alive.

In the U.S., partial-birth abortions were prohibited pursuant to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. The constitutionality of the Act was upheld in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124. Partial-birth abortion is one of the most hotly contested right-to-life political issues in the U.S.

The following is an example of a federal statute defining the term:

Pursuant to 18 USCS § 1531(b), the term "partial-birth abortion" means an abortion in which the person performing the abortion:

(A) deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living fetus until, in the case of a head-first presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother, or, in the case of breech presentation, any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother, for the purpose of performing an overt act that the person knows will kill the partially delivered living fetus; and

(B) performs the overt act, other than completion of delivery, that kills the partially delivered living fetus.