Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., announced Tuesday that he plans to introduce a 15-week national abortion ban in Congress, two months before the midterm elections as abortion rights have become the cornerstone of many political campaigns.
The so-called Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act is the sixth and strictest national abortion ban that Graham has introduced in Congress. It follows abortion bans in states like Florida, which prohibit abortions after 15-weeks of pregnancy and includes exceptions for rape, incest and life-saving measures.
Doctors have criticized the term late-term abortion, which typically refers to abortions after 21 weeks, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which notes it is not an accepted medical term.
Previous versions of his bill, like one introduced in January 2021, have proposed to ban abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Graham, joined with anti-abortion activist groups like the March for Life, National Right to Life and the Concerned Women of America, called abortion a “contentious issue” at a Tuesday press conference, adding that aborted fetuses have the potential to feel “excruciating pain” at and after 15-weeks of pregnancy.
Numerous studies have shown that fetuses do not possess the brain structure capabilities needed to feel pain before 24 weeks of pregnancy, with consensus among “every major medical organization,” according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
“They had the chance to vote on their bill,” Graham said, referring to a failed bill introduced by Democrats after Roe was overturned that attempted to codify abortion into national law. “I’m asking for a chance to vote on my bill.”
None of Graham’s abortion bans have passed before, including when Republicans controlled Congress and is unlikely to pass a Democratically-controlled House.
The proposed law comes as voters tune into abortions rights issues for the midterm elections. In June, a Pew Research poll showed that around 60% of Americans supported legal abortions. In Kansas, constituents voted to protect abortion rights in the state constitution, becoming the first state to face a test of abortion rights following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Whole Health, which overturned the federal right to abortion.
Abortion has divided legislatures and lawmakers. In Graham’s own home state, the South Carolina Republican-led Senate failed to pass an abortion ban last week that would have made abortions illegal at almost every stage of pregnancy and did not include exceptions for rape and incest. The legislature blocked the ban after several Republican senators joined with Democrats to stop the bill.
Tracking state abortion laws in the US