Washington — GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina introduced legislation Tuesday that would ban abortions nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The bill from Graham is a more stringent version of a proposal introduced by him and other Republicans last year that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Called the Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act, the new measure prohibits doctors from performing abortions five weeks earlier in a pregnancy, after 15 weeks. It includes exceptions for abortions that are necessary to save the life of the mother or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, and would leave untouched state laws that are more restrictive.
“After Roe v. Wade was overturned, Democrats in Congress have rallied behind pro-choice legislation which allows abortion right up until the moment of birth,” the South Carolina senator said in a statement. “I view the Democrat proposal as radical and one that Americans will ultimately reject. Our legislation is a responsible alternative as we provide exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and life and physical health of the mother.”
Graham’s bill comes in the wake of the Supreme Court’s blockbuster June decision unwinding the constitutional right to an abortion. The ruling from the high court’s conservative majority left abortion policy up to the states, and the decision was cheered by anti-abortion rights advocates who have long said the authority the regulate abortion rests with the American people through their elected officials.
Graham in June called the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe a “long overdue constitutional correction allowing the officials in the states to decide issues of life.” But his new proposal would reach from coast-to-coast, curtailing abortion in states with greater access, such as New York and Pennsylvania, where laws allow abortions to be performed up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer denounced Graham’s measure on the Senate floor as a “radical bill” and said the plan sends a “clear message from MAGA Republicans to women across the country: your body, our choice.”
“For the hard right, this has never been about states’ rights. This has never been about letting Texas choose its own path while California takes another,” Schumer said. “No, for MAGA Republicans, this has always been about making abortion illegal everywhere.”
The bill, though, is unlikely to become law, as it requires support from 60 senators to advance in the Senate. Democrats and Republicans each control 50 seats in the upper chamber, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting tie-breaking votes, and a national 15-week abortion ban will not win the support of 10 Democrats.
Additionally, two Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, support abortion rights. Even if the proposal could clear the Senate, it would stall in the House, where Democrats hold the majority.
Still, the attempt by GOP senators to curb abortion access comes as the issue has emerged as a motivator for voters in the November midterm elections.
A poll from CBS News released last month found 59% of likely voters said abortion is “very important” in their vote for Congress this year. A June poll from CBS News, conducted after the Supreme Court reversed its nearly 50-year-old decision in Roe, found 58% of voters favor a federal law legalizing abortion nationwide.
Democrats are also pouring money into ads focused on abortion rights, spending roughly $30 million on more than 100 television ads mentioning abortion since early May, according to tracking by AdImpact.
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