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House GOP leaders hedge on 15-week abortion ban

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.)
Greg Nash
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) addresses reporters after a closed-door House Republican conference meeting on Wednesday, September 14, 2022.

House Republicans will not commit to bringing up a 15-week abortion ban legislation if the party wins control of the House next year.

“First we’d need to see what our majority looks like,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said in a news conference on Wednesday when asked if Republicans would put a 15-week abortion ban bill on the floor, adding: “We are a party that defends life. We stand up for life.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) elicited swift attacks from Democrats and icy reactions from fellow Republicans after he introduced a 15-week abortion ban bill in the Senate, as abortion has appeared to energize Democratic voters ahead of the midterm elections.

A version of Graham’s 15-week abortion ban bill was also introduced in the House on Tuesday with more than 80 co-sponsors, led by House pro-life caucus leaders Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Michelle Fischbach (R-Minn.), Andy Harris (R-Md.) and Kat Cammack (R-Fla.).

Scalise tried to turn the issue of defending life back to Democrats.

“T​​hey don’t want to talk about the fact that their party has gotten so extreme that they went from a party that used to say that they wanted abortions to be rare. Today, they want to mandate abortion all the way up until the birth of the child and have taxpayer funding pay for it,” Scalise said. “That’s not where America is.”

“We defend life, not just inside the womb, which we’re proud to do. But we also defend life in communities, where you’re seeing crime overtake so many cities,” Scalise said. “Democrats want to let the criminals back out.”

Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), chairwoman of the House GOP Conference, and Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), chairman of the House Republicans’ campaign arm, are also co-sponsors of the 15-week ban bill, but Scalise and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) have not signed on.

Stefanik told reporters that the legislation is “something that we’ll discuss with a majority.” 

Asked about the 15-week ban legislation on Tuesday, McCarthy told The Hill that he had not seen the bill. 

House Republicans previously passed a 20-week abortion ban when they had control of the chamber in 2013 and 2017. The 15-week bill is an updated version of that legislation.

McConnell said Tuesday that most of his party members would prefer the abortion issue to be handled at the state level.

House Republicans have previously pledged to bring up the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act on “day one” in a GOP majority. That bill would require care to be given to an infant that survives an abortion procedure. Democrats have argued that current laws already guarantee infants’ legal rights.

Tags Abortion Andy Harris Kevin McCarthy Lindsey Graham Lindsey Graham Roe v. Wade Steve Scalise Steve Scalise

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