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What Senator Lindsey Graham’s New Abortion Bill Means

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at American chapter.

A power grab? An attempt to secure Republican seats? Both are viable explanations to a new anti-abortion bill.

As the GDP prepares for the 2022 midterm elections, both sides of the aisle have been rocked by a new bill that hit the floor on Tuesday Sept. 13. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the “Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act,” a bill that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks. Despite late term abortion standardly being 21 weeks, the bill dictates qualifications for abortion in a vague wording which leaves room for interpretations from different doctors. The only exceptions on this would be if the pregnancy resulted from rape, incest against a minor or as the Bill States “in reasonable medical judgement.”  

The exceptions in Section B of the bill come with stipulation and guidelines as to whether an abortion would be allowed. Medical judgements require evaluating the physical necessity of an abortion and excluding emotional or psychological damage to the patient.  The language used in the bill remains vague as to what qualifies as “reasonable medical judgment.”

The other exception with stipulation is in the case of rape. Stipulation in the subsection of Section B of the bill specifies that the person must have received counseling or medical treatment for the incident itself or injuries related. There is a time minimum on counseling or medical help in the bill that explains the services must have occurred at least 48 hours prior to the abortion.

“I’ve been consistent- I think states should decide the issue of marriage and state should decide the issue of abortion,” Senator Graham answered during a CNN interview after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. However, Graham has changed his tune during a Fox and Friends interview stating, “This is not a states’ rights issue. This is a human right issue.”

With midterms rapidly approaching, the Republican GOP goal is to win back either the House, the Senate or both. According to an NBC News article, many Republicans have recently softened anti-abortion language in their platforms to gain more support, especially those in Democratic states. Tiffany Smiley, a Republican running for the Senate seat of Washington ran an ad stating, “pro-life but I opposed a federal abortion ban.” 

Recent loss of support for Republicans due to the overturning of Roe v. Wade was cause for concern, which is where the “Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act” comes in.

 “Graham’s bill has virtually no chance of passing the current Congress, where Democrats hold slim majorities in the House and Senate,” Kevin Breuninger wrote in an article on CNBC News. 

While Senator Graham’s Bill may be a true reflection of his values, the Bill had very little merit to be passed. This is because Democrats hold the House, Senate and presidency. Historically, Democrats vote against anti-abortion law. With democrats holding all the House and Senate, why would Senator Graham introduce such a strict anti-abortion bill?  Some journalists speculate that this bill was introduced to give Republicans a chance to soften their image about abortion, and publicly oppose a bill that would have previously aligned with their political goals. An article by News Observer about the bill states, “So this bill isn’t about protecting a fetus from pain. It’s about protecting Republicans from losing seats.”

Whether Senator Graham’s new bill is truly an attempt to federally ban abortion or to foster support for Republicans in the upcoming midterms , it is a provides a look into reality after the overturning of Roe v. Wade

Evelyn is a sophomore at American University, double majoring in International Studies and Political Science, with a thematic focus in National Security and Foreign Policy and a specialization in Comparative Politics. She has interest in foreign policy advocacy and international relations analysis. Evelyn is currently a contributing writer for HCAU and is living in DC.