Senator proposes federal 15-week abortion ban

Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 10:04 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is proposing a federal ban on abortions after 15 weeks. The move comes less than two months before midterm elections, and political experts say abortion access is a motivating issue for Democratic voters.

Graham said on Tuesday, “What I’m trying to tell my colleagues that there is a consensus view by the most prominent pro-life groups in America, that this is where America should be at the federal level.”

Graham was surrounded by some of the nation’s top pro-life advocates while introducing the legislation on Tuesday. He previously introduced a 20-weeks and later ban, but said lowering his proposal to 15 weeks is based on the unborn feeling pain in the womb.

Jeanne Mancini, the president of March for Life, said at the press conference introducing the bill, “This act provides the bare minimum protections for vulnerable unborn children.”

The bill includes exceptions for rape, incest, and when medically necessary to save a pregnant woman’s life. The bill specifies that a medically necessary abortion does include “psychological or emotional conditions.” The bill also requires a rape victim to obtain counseling, or “medical treatment for the rape or an injury related to the rape.”

The legislation also specifies an exemption if, “The pregnancy is a result of rape against a minor or incest against a minor, and the rape or incest has been reported at any time prior to the abortion...” to law enforcement or a government agency authorized to act on reports of child abuse.

Jenny Lawson, the executive director of Planned Parenthood’s political action committee, Planned Parenthood Votes, said of the bill, “This is unacceptable and they cannot be allowed to do this at the federal level.”

When asked whether there should be a certain cut off time for abortion access, Lawson said, “Every pregnancy is unique. Every pregnancy is different. It is really, really important for good medical care and for good health care, for doctors to have the ability to do the things they need to do to take care of a woman when she is pregnant and her family. That’s where the decisions need to be laid.”

During his press conference, Senator Graham acknowledged that he doesn’t have the votes to pass the legislation now, but made a political appeal.

Graham said, “If we take back the House and the Senate, I can assure you we’ll have a vote on our bill. If the Democrats are in charge, I don’t know if we’ll ever have a vote on our bill.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was asked about Graham’s bill. McConnell said, “I think most of the members of my conference prefer this be dealt with at the state level.”

According to an August Wall Street Journal poll, 48% of people surveyed said they believe Democrats are best able to handle abortion policy, compared to 27% saying Republicans are.

Political science professor Mark Rom, from Georgetown University, says after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this year, abortion access is motivating Democratic voters.

Rom said, “So that means a lot of Republicans are really really nervous because they don’t want abortion to really be on the ballot.”