01 Jul 20

NY Penal Law § 125.55: Self-Abortion in the First Degree

| by

Last Updated on: 5th August 2023, 01:15 am

An abortion or abortional act is defined as carrying out  an action that is intended to cause a miscarriage. The abortion can be a physical illegal operation that is performed upon a pregnant woman, or it can be carried out by the taking of medication to induce a miscarriage.  If a woman carries out an abortion on herself, that act is considered to be a self-abortion. Although abortion, in general, is legal in New York, there are some circumstances under which performing an abortion is a criminal offense.Four different abortion-related offenses are laid out  in the New York criminal code.  Two of them are related to performing an abortion on another person.  The other two are related to self-abortion. In order to be charged with a crime for performing an unlawful abortion, it is not necessary that you have carried out the abortion on another person.  You can also be charged with a self-abortion offense if you unlawfully perform the abortion on yourself.  In the event that you unlawfully perform the abortion on yourself, you will face a self-abortion charge.  You could be prosecuted for self-abortion in the first degree under New York Penal Law § 125.55 if you perform an abortion on yourself and you are more than 24 weeks pregnant.


Golda is single, unemployed and 25 weeks pregnant. The father of her child has refused to see her and has informed her that he would have nothing to do with the baby. Golda wanted to get rid of the baby, but did not have the money to pay for it or anyone to go with her. Desperate, she made a choice to perform the abortion on herself. She unfolded a wire coat hanger and inserted it inside herself to try to force a miscarriage. After she poked herself a number of times, she started to bleed profusely.  She panicked and called 911. Golda’s baby did not make it through the ordeal. Golda could be charged with the crime of self-abortion in the first degree, because she was more than 24 weeks pregnant when she forced her own miscarriage.

Offenses that are Related

Self-abortion in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 125.50

Abortion in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 125.40

Abortion in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 125.45

Possible Defenses

For you to be convicted of self-abortion in the first degree, you must have had the intent to cause yourself to miscarry. If you can demonstrate that even though the actions you took resulted in you miscarrying, you actually had no intention to bring about your own miscarriage, then you may be able to successfully defend against a charge of self-abortion in the first degree.

The Sentence

Since abortion in the first degree is categorized as a class A misdemeanor, if you are convicted, he judge could be sentence you to up to a year in the county jail. It is also possible that the judge might sentence you to a probation term of 3 years.