WASHINGTON – Sen. Lindsey Graham on Thursday introduced a bill that would ban abortions once a pregnancy reaches the 20-week mark, pushing Senate legislation that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed earlier this year.
Graham, a South Carolina Republican running for election next year to a third term, cited significant advancements in science and technology since the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which prohibited abortions in the last trimester of pregnancy.
“We now know that an unborn child at the 20th week of pregnancy can feel pain,” Graham said. “In fact, anesthesia is administered directly to unborn children in second-trimester fetal surgery. Given these facts and the continued strong support for life, I believe there is a compelling interest in protecting these unborn children, who are among the most vulnerable in our society.”
Graham’s measure, called the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, has 33 co-sponsors, all Republicans, which represents about 75 percent of all GOP senators.
About 55 percent of Americans back imposing a 20-week limit on abortions, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll.
Graham’s abortion bill has exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest against a minor, and if an abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother.
The measure was hailed by anti-abortion groups and assailed by abortion rights advocates.
The House passed a similar bill in June, with six Democrats joining 222 Republicans in the 228-196 vote.
With several anti-abortion Democratic senators, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada indicated in July he was open to permitting a vote on the legislation. Sen. Patty Murray, a Washington state Democrat, has signaled that she will marshal Senate opposition to the measure.