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NY Penal Law § 125.55: Self-abortion in the first degree

An abortion or abortional act is defined as doing something with the intent of causing a miscarriage. An abortion can be a physical act performed upon a pregnant woman as well as the taking of medication to induce a miscarriage. If a woman performs an abortion on herself, that act is referred to as self-abortion. While abortion is generally legal in New York, there are some circumstances under which performing an abortion is a criminal offense. There are 4 different abortion-related offenses in the New York criminal code. The specific abortion charge that you will face depends on how many weeks the pregnant woman was at the time of the abortion and whether or not you performed the abortion on yourself or on another person. If you unlawfully perform the abortion on yourself, you will face a self-abortion charge. Under New York Penal Law § 125.55 you could be prosecuted for self-abortion in the first degree if you commit an abortion on yourself and you are more than 24 weeks pregnant.


Henrietta is single, unemployed and 25 weeks pregnant. The father of her baby refuses to see her and told her that he would have nothing to do with the baby. Henrietta wanted to have an abortion but did not have the means to pay for it or anyone to go with her. Desperate, she decided to perform the abortion on herself. She used a coat hanger to try to force a miscarriage. After she poked herself a few times, she started to bleed uncontrollably and called 911. Henrietta's baby did not survive. Henrietta could be charged with self-abortion in the first degree as she was more than 24 weeks pregnant when she caused her own miscarriage.

Related Offenses
  1. Abortion in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 125.40
  2. Abortion in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 125.45
  3. Self-abortion in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 125.50

In order for you to be convicted of self-abortion in the first degree you must have intended to cause yourself to miscarry. If you can show that even though your actions resulted in you miscarrying, you had no intention to cause yourself to miscarry, then you may be able to successfully defend a charge of self-abortion in the first degree.


Because abortion in the first degree is a class A misdemeanor if you are convicted you could be sentenced to up to a year in the county jail. It is also possible for the judge to sentence you to a probation term of 3 years.

New York Penal Law § 125.55: Self-abortion in the first degree

A female is guilty of self-abortion in the first degree when, being pregnant for more than twenty-four weeks, she commits or submits to an abortional act upon herself which causes her miscarriage, unless such abortional act is justifiable pursuant to subdivision three of § 125.05.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Even though self-abortion in the first degree is a misdemeanor and not a felony, it is still important that you have experienced representation. If you are convicted you could end up in jail. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with vehicular manslaughter, manslaughter, conspiracy, murder and other serious crimes. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of larceny in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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