Overview:

Lindsey Graham has proposed a 15 week national abortion ban. Some Republicans are dismissing the notion.

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Lindsey Graham has always been a staunch opponent of abortion rights. Now, he’s proposing new anti-abortion legislation that would ban the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy nationwide. 

Graham’s proposal comes at a difficult time for Republicans, who have been losing steam in midterm polls, hobbled by the extreme unpopularity of the Supreme Court’s summer decision overturning Roe. Typically, the party out of the White House does extremely well in midterms, because their party has energy and motivation the party in power lacks. But this year, Democrats have been gaining momentum as young women are registering to vote at higher rates and pollsters increasingly believe Democrats could hold the Senate

Republicans have been backpedaling rhetoric related to abortion bans since it became clear that overturning Roe was a problem for voters. Some Republicans have even openly dismissed Graham’s proposed ban. “I don’t think there’s an appetite for a national platform here. My state, today, is working on this. I’m not sure what [Graham is] thinking here. But I don’t think there will be a rallying around that concept,” said West Virginia Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito

Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn was even more stark: “That wasn’t a conference decision. It was an individual senator’s decision,” Cornyn said. “There’s obviously a split of opinion in terms of whether abortion law should be decided by the states, which is my preference … and those who want to set some sort of minimum standard. I would keep an open mind on this but my preference would be for those decisions to be made on a state-by-state basis.”

The proposed 15-week abortion ban is more stringent than 20-week bans that Graham has pursued in the past. Graham has argued that his bill wouldn’t hurt Republicans politically, saying that if Republicans win back both houses of Congress, there would be a vote on passing the abortion ban.

Given the current climate, it’s hard to imagine a message better tuned to a Democratic recapture of both houses.

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Marcus Johnson

Marcus Johnson is a political commentator and a political science Ph.D. candidate at American University. His primary research focus is the impact of political institutions on the racial wealth gap.