Mitch McConnell says he doesn’t currently see a path forward for national abortion ban

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-K.Y., said on Sunday that he does not believe a nationwide ban on abortions would pass in his chamber, but McConnell declined to comment on whether he would personally support such a measure.

“I don't think we'll get 60 votes in the Senate for any kind of national legislation,” McConnell said on NBC’s “Meet the Press" when asked whether he would back a federal abortion ban if it came to a vote.

“It's going to be sorted out at the state level,” McConnell, 82, said.

A number of states across the country have passed legislation around abortion access since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that had provided the nationwide right to an abortion.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks to the Senate Chambers as the Senate takes up a $95B foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan on Tuesday, April 23, 2024.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks to the Senate Chambers as the Senate takes up a $95B foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan on Tuesday, April 23, 2024.

More than a dozen predominantly red states have enacted near total bans on abortions, while a handful of blue states including Oregon and Vermont allow abortions regardless of the gestational period, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights. Abortions late in a pregnancy remain rare and are typically due to medical concerns.

Abortion rights have become a major rallying cry for Democrats up and down the ballot in 2024. This year, voters in nearly a dozen more states will weigh in on ballot initiatives related to abortion access, including in Maryland and New York.

National Republicans, meanwhile, are split over how to approach the issue.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has proposed a national abortion ban after 15 weeks (about 3 and a half months) of pregnancy with exceptions for rape, incest and life-threatening medical emergencies. Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive 2024 GOP presidential nominee, has expressed opposition to such a measure, arguing that it would hurt Republicans in the general election.

McConnell affirmed on Sunday that he was not advocating for Graham's proposal or any other legislation restricting abortion at the national level, despite his track record of bringing anti-abortion measures to a vote. In 2020, when McConnell was the majority leader, he brought to two abortion-related bills to the Senate floor, even though they lacked the 60 votes needed to pass.

The bills included measures that would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and required doctors to attempt to save the life of an unborn fetus after an abortion procedure.

This election year, McConnell plans to avoid such a vote.

“I’m not advocating anything at this level,” the Kentucky Republican said in the interview that aired Sunday. “I think it's going to be sorted out all across the country, and be very different in different states.”

As for how Republicans will campaign on the issue of abortion in 2024 elections, McConnell suggested a cohesive party message isn’t likely.

“We get elected by states,” he told NBC. “My members are smart enough to figure out how they want to deal with this very divisive issue based upon the people who actually send them there.”

McConnell plans to step down from his leadership position in November, though he will serve the rest of his Senate term.

Contributing: Savannah Kuchar, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mitch McConnell says he doesn't see path for national abortion ban