It seems like Sen. Lindsey Graham’s fellow Senate Republicans wish he had kept his mouth shut on the whole “national abortion ban” thing at this particular moment in time. Before the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, Republicans had big plans. Sen. Joni Ernst was going to introduce a six-week abortion ban, with support from a number of other Republican senators. The “Life at Conception” Act had 19 cosponsors in the Senate and more than 100 in the House.
Graham’s 15-week ban is not at all out of step with legislation backed by much of his party, in other words. But once they saw how the public was responding to Roe v. Wade being overturned, Republicans decided discretion was the better part of valor. They’ve been trying to stay quiet on the subject, with even some of their most extreme candidates backing away from positions they campaigned on in their primaries. So Graham’s bill was not part of the plan right now, even if it was absolutely part of the plan in the long run.
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Speaking with the benefit of anonymity, one Republican operative quoted in The Hill expressed the emotion many Republicans must be feeling. “I just can’t believe this happened. I cannot believe this happened. Surely Democrats are high-fiving across the country. Imagine how much money they’re going to raise, and they didn’t even have to talk about inflation. They had a press conference on inflation today, and they didn’t even have to talk about it!”
Yes. Thank you!
Many other Republicans want to keep up the pretense that abortion is up to the states—just like Graham himself was doing not long ago.
“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 he’s thinking here. But I don’t think there will be a rallying around that concept,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito told Politico. “I don’t think there’s much of an appetite to go that direction.” Lawmakers in her state passed an abortion ban hours after she said that.
”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,” Sen. John Cornyn said. “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.”
That preference will only last until Republicans have congressional majorities, mind you.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, too, did not want to talk about it. Sen. John Thune, the second-ranking Senate Republican, defended the bill, though, saying, “I would expect there would be pretty good support for that among, you know, pro-life Republicans and maybe some pro-life Democrats.” Graham’s bill and pledge that it will get a vote in a Republican-controlled Congress may rally the base, but all indications are that Dobbs has shown Democrats who aren’t wholly supportive of abortion rights exactly how far from Republicans they really are on this issue.
Graham seems to think that by pushing for a 15-week ban, he’s going to win swing voters. But it seems like he’s working from old polling (and maybe his bilious gut), while many of his colleagues understand where voter sentiment is now:
No surprise, then, Democrats are working to make sure that voters hear about Graham’s plan.
Shout it from the rooftops. Run it in a hundred ads in the final stretch of the election season.
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The post-Roe rebirth of an unstoppable reproductive rights movement has only just begun
About that national abortion ban congressional Republicans have been planning …
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