Lindsey Graham is set to introduce a new bill to restrict abortion nationally, specifically banning the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
This will mark the sixth time that the South Carolina governor has introduced legislation to restrict abortion at the federal level. The plan, which you can now read in full below, has no chance of surviving a Democratic-controlled Senate; even if Republicans seize control of Congress, it would still likely face serious challenges, including an all-but-certain veto from the president.
But what’s interesting here is that by once again proposing nationwide abortion restrictions, Graham is reportedly hoping that the legislation will convince voters that the GOP is willing to make some concessions on the issue—that amid intense outrage, the Republican Party is not as cruel as the Democrats have been portraying. But much of Graham’s logic here weaponizes the stigma, as well as the general misunderstanding of the term “late-term abortions,” and it’s difficult to see newly mobilized voters falling for it in our post-Roe landscape. As my colleague Becca Andrews reported:
The squishiness of the term means it has become an effective weapon, easily evoking an ill-defined evil as it leaks into broader vernacular. And as a result, even erstwhile abortion rights supporters often show an urge to explain “late-term” abortions as needing justification.
But the reality is, these are simply medical procedures given to those who need them. The reasons why people get them are often not all that different from “early-term” ones; in fact, many patients want to get their abortions earlier—but stigma, paired with the ever-growing net of restrictions pushed by lawmakers who claim to want to “protect women,” creates barriers that push people further into pregnancy before they can get care.
It’s a curious thing for Graham, in an effort to paint the Republican Party in a more moderate light after the fall of Roe, to believe that a national ban will do the trick. True, more people support a 15-week abortion ban than oppose it, according to some polling before the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. Graham’s plan also includes exceptions for rape and incest. But in the wake of Roe’s reversal, countless horror stories have popped up—stories of people being denied basic health care, of pregnant people’s lives being jeopardized as the extreme forces sitting on the Supreme Court have made it clear they intend to go after so much else. Now that Democrats will soon be able to say it officially—that the GOP is hellbent on criminalizing abortion and currently working to restrict it nationally—Graham’s logic seems destined to backfire.
This post has been updated to include the text of Graham’s bill.