Democrats Decry Graham’s 15-Week Abortion Ban

By Joseph Lord
Joseph Lord
Joseph Lord
Joseph Lord is a congressional reporter for The Epoch Times.
September 15, 2022 Updated: September 16, 2022

Congressional Democrats are decrying legislation unveiled by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) that would ban abortion at the federal level after 15 weeks.

Graham unveiled the legislation, dubbed the Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act, on Sept. 13. It’s similar to another measure introduced in the Senate by Graham last year, but it would change the prohibition from the previous legislation’s 20-week ban to a reduced 15-week ban.

During a press conference, Graham said the legislation, which would target physicians providing banned abortions rather than women seeking them, is necessary to place the United States in line with most of the rest of the developed world. In Europe, 47 of the continent’s 50 countries ban abortion after 12 to 15 weeks of gestation, he noted.

Under the terms of the legislation, physicians providing banned abortions after the legal threshold would be on the hook for a federal criminal charge carrying a fine and as long as five years in federal prison.

However, the proposed law would permit exceptions in cases where physicians determine the mother’s life is in danger or for children who are the product of rape or incest.

Predictably, Democrats were quick to decry the measure, coming in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, as an assault on women’s rights.

During a speech on the Senate floor before Graham unveiled the legislation, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called it a “radical bill to institute a nationwide restriction on abortions” and made clear that his party opposed it.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) echoed the sentiment in a statement, saying that Republicans “are gleefully charging ahead with their deadly crusade to punish and control women’s health decisions.”

“We are already seeing the agonizing reality of the radical bans enacted by radical right-wing state legislatures,” Pelosi wrote. “Extreme MAGA Republicans in Congress clearly want to inflict this same suffering on every woman in every state.”

“They know they’re digging a hole,” Pelosi said during a Sept. 14 press conference, opining that the legislation would be bad for the Republican Party’s electoral prospects. “Women are not happy about this.”

During her own Sept. 14 press conference, Assistant Speaker of the House Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) also blasted the measure.

“MAGA Republicans have doubled down on their scorched earth campaign against women and families,” Clark said. “Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced a nationwide abortion ban. The American people do not want politicians in their bedrooms and their doctors’ offices.”

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) took the same approach to the issue during a press conference on the same day.

“It’s extreme if your top agenda is a nationwide ban on abortion,” Jeffries said. “Lindsey Graham just introduced the bill. And that bill would … undermine the freedom of women to make their own reproductive health care decisions in other states.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) agreed, lobbing the epithet of “theocrats” at the legislation’s proponents.

“Lindsey Graham’s nationwide 15-week abortion ban is a dangerous escalation of the GOP’s plan to destroy women’s health care,” Raskin wrote on Twitter. “We won’t let it pass, but we see what’s coming if the theocrats take over Congress.

“Pro-freedom Americans: stay vigilant.”

The same day, the White House released a statement calling the legislation “wildly out of step with what Americans believe” and accusing Republicans of being “focused on taking rights away from millions of women.”

State-Level Democrats Weigh In

Some state-level Democrats also commented on the legislation.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison called it “proof of MAGA intentions.”

“My opponent & the whole [Minnesota Republican Party] ticket have said they’ll strip away your right to abortion & the freedom to control your own body. Lindsay Graham’s [national] abortion ban is more proof of MAGA intentions,” Ellison wrote in a Sept. 14 Twitter post. “Not me: I’ll protect your body & freedoms when they attack them. That’s the choice.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who last year survived a statewide effort to recall him from office, responded to the announcement of the legislation by promising the creation of a new website with information about abortion access.

“Make no mistake—Lindsey Graham’s new national ban on abortion is about controlling women,” Newsom wrote in a Twitter post announcing the launch of the new site. “That’s their agenda.

“[California’s] fighting back. Today, we’re launching a NEW website to provide resources for women to get reproductive care—no matter where they live.”

Charles Booker, the Democratic Party’s nominee for senator who will be squaring up against Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in the longtime red stronghold, also commented.

“As Kentucky’s next Senator, I will never vote for Lindsey Graham’s 15-week nationwide abortion ban,” Booker wrote on Twitter.

In another post, Booker wrote: “Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham want the Government to control your body. I want to codify your human rights into federal law.”

Republicans Worried About Election Effects

Even many Republicans have been lukewarm on Graham’s legislation, fearing that it may stoke up the Democratic base just months before an election.

Currently, Democrats hold both the House and Senate. Although the House is favored by observers to go red, the race for the evenly-split Senate remains nail-bitingly close for both parties.

Republicans have been mute on the legislation, which they see as untimely ahead of the tight midterm battle.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said as much the day that Graham unveiled it, suggesting that Republican senators aren’t keen to take up the issue.

McConnell, following the announcement of the legislation, said it’s not high on his list of priorities if he becomes Senate majority leader next year, saying that many Republicans would prefer to leave the issue up to the states.

“With regard to his bill, you’ll have to ask him about it. In terms of scheduling, I think most of the members of my conference prefer that this be dealt with at the state level,” McConnell told reporters, hinting that the push was Graham’s own initiative and not a Republican leadership-backed one.

Graham acknowledged as much, saying that he didn’t consult with the minority leader before unveiling the legislation.

For many Republican nominees in tight races, the measure has caused a headache as the nominees try to balance the demands of keeping in step with their base with the political realities of facing a more moderate electorate in November.

Among Republicans both in the Senate now and those hoping to be a part of it next year, the response has largely been in favor of leaving the issue to the states, as McConnell suggested.

Joseph Lord
Joseph Lord is a congressional reporter for The Epoch Times.