Fight or flight?
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) released proposed legislation Tuesday to ban abortion nationwide after 15 weeks, with rare exceptions. He pledged that Congress would vote on his bill if Republicans win control in November.
Anti-abortion activists, quietly seeking to rally Republicans around a single abortion position since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, embraced Graham's plan, "hoping to settle divisions and blunt political damage from an issue with growing potency in the midterm elections," The New York Times reports. Instead, "Graham's Senate allies swiftly distanced themselves from the plan, reflecting a lack of consensus in the party."
Democrats almost uniformly portrayed Graham's bill as "a political gift of self-inflicted pain for Republican candidates now having to answer questions about an abortion ban," not inflation or volatile markets, The Associated Press reports. "So obvious was the apparent ill-timing of the bill's introduction that one White House aide said a Republican lobbyist friend joked that Graham appeared to be working for the Biden administration," Politico reports.
"Dems might need to send gift baskets and champagne to Graham and other Republicans for their selfless act of service today," another Democratic official told Politico.
"A nationwide abortion ban — that's the contrast between the two parties, plain and simple," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not agree with that assessment. "I think every Republican senator running this year in these contested races has an answer as to how they feel about the issue," he said.
Graham's 15-week national ban includes exceptions for rape, incest, and risk to the physical health of the mother, but it would serve as a baseline, allowing states to enact tighter restrictions. And the rape exception for minors "only applies if the doctor gets documentation from law enforcement reporting a rape," lawyer Max Kennedy notes, meaning Graham would "make it the law that 10-year-olds are presumed to have consented to sex."
Anti-abortion advocates argue that by running from the abortion fight, "Republicans are not only ceding what they believe is a winning political issue but could be jeopardizing the push for further restrictions," the Times reports. "There's no doubt that there are a lot of GOP consultants encouraging candidates to not talk about the issue," said Marc Short, former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence. "It is the wrong approach."