Graham brings 20-week abortion ban to Senate with 45 co-sponsors
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced a 20-week abortion ban in the Senate on Thursday with the support of 45 GOP senators, two days after a similar bill passed the House.
The “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which faces long odds in the upper chamber, would make it illegal for any person to perform or attempt an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy with the possibility of five years in prison, fines or both.
“I don’t believe abortion, five months into pregnancy, makes us a better nation,” Graham said.
“America is at her best when she’s standing up for the least among us, and the sooner we pass this legislation into law, the better. We are on the right side of history,” he said.
The bill has exceptions for rape if the woman has received medical treatment or counseling at least 48 hours prior to the abortion or if she has reported the rape to law enforcement.
There are also exceptions if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest against a minor that has been reported to either social services or law enforcement.
The exceptions note that the abortion can only proceed in a manner that provides the “best opportunity” for the fetus to survive unless that would pose a greater risk of death or serious bodily injury to the pregnant woman.
The abortion provider must receive informed consent from the woman certifying that she has been provided the gestational age of the fetus, a description of the law and her rights under it.
The bill would also require that abortion doctors submit annual data to the National Center for Health and Statistics about abortions carried out after 20 weeks.
The House on Tuesday passed its own 20-week abortion ban, 237-189, largely along party lines.
The legislation is likely to face a tough sell in the Senate. A similar bill passed the House in 2015 but was blocked by Democratic senators.
With only a 52-seat majority, it would be unlikely Senate Republicans could gather the 60 votes needed to move the legislation to President Trump’s desk. Graham still said he’s “100 percent confident” Senate leadership would bring the bill to the floor for a vote.
While the bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), has pushed for the Senate to end the legislative filibuster to get the bill passed in the upper chamber, Graham dismissed that idea.
Trump has also repeatedly called for the Senate to nix the filibuster in order to pass his agenda.
The White House said Monday that it “strongly supports” the bill and “applauds the House of Representatives for continuing its efforts to secure critical pro-life protections.”
The bill is a top priority of anti-abortion groups, which argue a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks gestation and later.
“Tuesday’s vote in the House of Representatives was a win for basic human decency,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group based in D.C.
“Now it’s time for the pro-life majority in the Senate, led by pro-life champion Lindsey Graham, to force vulnerable pro-abortion Senators up in 2018 to either stand with their pro-life constituents and vote for this bill, or stand with the extreme abortion lobby and vote in favor of late-term abortion on-demand,” she said.
Democratic senators have criticized the legislation as extreme and harmful.
“I hope Senate Republican leaders make the right choice — commit not to bring this extreme, harmful legislation up for a vote — and start sending a message to the people across the country looking to us for solutions that Congress is putting them first, not partisan politics,” said Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Health Committee.