McConnell Not Supportive of Graham’s Abortion Ban Proposal

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) on Tuesday said most Republican senators would like to leave the issue of abortion up to the states after Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) proposed a nationwide ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

McConnell said the measure is not being touted by leadership.

“With regard to his bill, you’ll have to ask him about it. In terms of scheduling, I think most of the members of my conference prefer that this be dealt with at the state level,” he told reporters.  

He said he would leave it to Republican senators running for reelection to determine their own responses on the issue.

“I think every Republican senator running this year in these contested races has an answer as to how they feel about the issue and it may be different in different states. So I leave it up to our candidates who are quite capable of handling this issue to determine for them what their response is,” he said.  

Earlier on Tuesday, Graham unveiled his proposal and acknowledged that he did not discuss the measure with McConnell ahead of time, according to The Hill.

“I think we should have a law at the federal level that would say, after 15 weeks, no abortion on demand except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother,” Graham said while unveiling the legislation. “And that should be where America is at.”

Under the proposal, doctors who violate the ban could be subject to sentences of up to five years in prison.

While the measure would almost certainly not advance in Congress with its current makeup — Democrats control the House and Vice President Kamala Harris serves as the tie-breaking vote in the evenly divided Senate — Graham said Congress would vote on the measure if Republicans are able to take back both chambers in the upcoming midterm elections.

“Abortion is a contentious issue,” Graham said. “Abortion is not banned in America. It is left up to elected officials in America to define the issue… States have the ability to do [so] at the state level and we have the ability in Washington to speak on this issue if we choose. I have chosen to speak.”

However, some Republicans have said decisions over abortion should remain with the states after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

“I just don’t see the momentum at the federal level,” Senator Roger Marshall (R., Kan.) told the Washington Post in July. “I think the legislative priority should be at the states.”

Additionally, some pro-lifers say the ban would not go far enough, as several red states already have stricter bans in place. However, Graham’s proposal would act as a federal ceiling and would still allow states to set limits lower than 15 weeks.

McConnell said back in May, after a leaked draft opinion suggested the Supreme Court was poised to overturn Roe, that there are not 60 votes in the Senate to pass federal abortion law.

“Historically, there have been abortion votes on the floor of the Senate. None of them have achieved 60 votes,” he said.  

“I think it’s safe to say there aren’t 60 votes there at the federal level, no matter who happens to be in the majority, no matter who happens to be in the White House,” he added. 

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