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U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham Proposes National Abortion Ban

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) speaks during a press conference. | Image by Getty Images

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Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) divided GOP Senators on Tuesday after proposing legislation that would ban most abortions nationwide after 15 weeks.

Graham’s proposal, which he claims would align the U.S with other European nations’ stances on abortion, was met with apprehension from both sides of the Senate. Along with Democratic senators, the nationwide ban met resistance from multiple Republican leaders, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

The ban would have exceptions for multiple reasons, such as rape or a threat to the mother’s life. Graham claims that the selected time period, 15 weeks, is the cutoff point at which a fetus develops nerves and can sense pain.

This threshold is still debated in the medical community. The majority of European countries limit abortions to a 12-week gestational period, though the range of exceptions allowed creates a more permissive legal reality.

Graham’s proposal is the first attempt at outlawing abortion nationwide to make the Senate floor after the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade did not ban abortion but rather left it up to each state to decide for itself. This caused “trigger laws” — existing laws that become enforceable as a result of a change in circumstances — to be set off in some states, which quickly took effect to permit or restrict abortion to varying degrees.

If Graham’s legislation were to pass, it would return abortion to the federal government’s purview, where it has largely been since the 1973 passage of Roe v. Wade, by mandating that states follow a federal abortion ban.

Democrats were quick to respond.

“Proposals like the one today send a clear message from MAGA Republicans to women across the country: your body, our choice,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said. “Republicans are twisting themselves in a pretzel trying to explain their position on abortion.”

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), tweeted, “I will block any efforts in the Senate to advance a nationwide abortion ban — full stop. We don’t need any more male politicians telling women what we can and can’t do with our own bodies.”

As it stands, it would be unlikely for such legislation to pass in the Senate. First, Republicans would likely have to regain control of the Senate come November’s elections. Even if this occurs, many Republicans believe that the floor is too deeply divided to unite.

“I think most of the members of my conference prefer this be dealt with at the state level,” said McConnell.

Even Sen. Graham previously stated that the issue should be left to the states, a position which he has now reversed.

“I hope we get to debate on it and vote on it,” Graham said. “I think the public is with us.”

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