Administration

White House warns Graham abortion bill would create ‘nationwide health care crisis’

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
Greg Nash
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) addresses reporters during a press conference on Tuesday, September 13, 2022 to introduce the Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act.

A top White House official warned in a memo issued Thursday that Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) proposal for a national abortion ban would lead to a “nationwide health care crisis” and transform reproductive medicine.

Jennifer Klein, director of the Gender Policy Council at the White House, wrote in a memo obtained by The Hill that Graham’s legislation would endanger pregnant people and have catastrophic consequences for the health care system.

“If passed and enacted, this bill would create a nationwide health crisis, imperiling the health and lives of women in all 50 states. It would transform the practice of medicine, opening the door to doctors being thrown in jail if they fulfill their duty of care to patients according to their best medical judgment,” Klein wrote in the memo, which was obtained by The Hill.

Klein cited a study from The New England Journal of Medicine that looked at a Texas law imposing an abortion ban after six weeks pregnancy that went into effect in September 2021. The study found that many providers do not provide information to patients about abortion in cases where the health of the mother or the fetus is in danger out of fear of legal and professional consequences. 

“Providers have sent home patients whose health is in jeopardy, unable to provide care under the law, and only provided appropriate treatment once they returned with signs of a life threatening condition like sepsis. Finally, the study notes that some providers are planning to leave Texas entirely,“ Klein wrote.

Klein also pointed to responses from the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to Graham’s bill, in which the organizations said such restrictions on abortion “threaten the very integrity of the medical profession by interfering with providers’ duty of care, violating long established principles of medical ethics, and intruding upon honest, open communication between patients and providers.”

State lawmakers in some areas have pushed for restrictions on abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s June decision upholding Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban and striking down the precedent set by Roe v. Wade, which for decades guaranteed access to abortion for Americans.

Graham earlier this month introduced his proposed 15-week national abortion ban, saying he was motivated to act following attempts by Democrats to enshrine abortion protections into federal law. He previously supported a 20-week abortion ban, but since the Supreme Court ruled that Mississippi’s 15-week ban was constitutional, he wanted to go further. 

The legislation includes exceptions for incest and rape and to save the life of the pregnant parent if they are in danger from a physical condition. It also includes a potential five-year jail sentence for any provider who violates the ban.

The bill would retain state laws that are more restrictive, while replacing laws in blue states that protect abortion.

White House officials have hammered Republicans over their support of laws that would restrict access to reproductive care, warning voters that a GOP majority could also limit access to contraception and infringe on the right to privacy.

“You got Lindsey Graham talking about nationalizing the — the decision to overrule Roe, make it a national policy,” President Biden said Tuesday at a Democratic fundraiser in New York City. “Well, the only good news is I’m still president for two more years. They can do it, and I’ll veto it.”

Tags Abortion Gender Policy Council Jennifer Klein Jennifer Klein Lindsey Graham Lindsey Graham Roe v. Wade
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