President Biden is taking Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and other Republicans to task over a proposed nationwide abortion ban, a topic set to be a galvanizing issue in the midterm elections.
“Think about what these guys are talking about,” Biden told a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in New York this week. “No exceptions - rape, incest - no exceptions, regardless of age,” he said of the proposed ban.
“I happen to be a practicing Roman Catholic,” he added. “My church doesn’t even make that argument now.”
Graham introduced a bill this month that would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy across the United States. However, he said exceptions could be made “in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.”
“Abortion is not banned in America. It is left up to elected officials in America to define the issue,” Graham said in announcing the proposal last week, surrounded by several female antiabortion leaders. “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.”
Graham previously took a different view, telling reporters last month that “states should decide the issue of abortion.” Now he favors national legislation, saying that abortion “is not a states’ rights issue.”
Appearing on Fox News on Thursday, he reaffirmed his commitment to a nationwide ban: “We’re a national party. Here’s my position on the border. Here’s my position on crime. Here’s my position on inflation… . We owe it to the American people to tell them who we are, and here’s who we are as a national party.”
“They’re trying to marginalize me. Now I’m a pro-life guy, always have been,” he continued. “I guess here’s what I’m saying to the pro-life movement: Stand up for the baby in a reasonable way - they need you now.”
Despite the rhetoric, Graham’s measure stands little chance of advancing while Democrats hold the majority in Congress.
Biden said Graham and others want to “make sure that Roe is forever gone and Dobbs becomes the national law.” He referred to the Supreme Court’s ruling in June in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that granted women a constitutional right to abortion.
“Well, the good news is - for me, anyway - I’m going to be around at least for another two years… . I’m going to veto it. It’s not going to happen,” Biden said to applause, referring to a nationwide abortion ban.
Abortion is now banned or mostly prohibited in 15 states, while laws in several others are in various stages of legal limbo. Last month, Indiana passed a near-total abortion ban, becoming the first state to do so after Roe was struck down in June.
But Kansas voters rejected a ballot measure that would have allowed state lawmakers to regulate abortion - the first time voters in a state referendum had decided on such a provision after the fall of Roe. In South Carolina this month, Republicans also fell short in their bid for a near-total abortion ban.
While Republicans generally have praised the ruling overturning Roe, many have avoided making the issue a focus ahead of the midterm elections, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
“I think most of the members of my conference prefer that this be dealt with at the state level,” McConnell said last week in seemingly dismissing Graham’s bill.
Democrats have roundly criticized the bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called it the “latest, clearest signal of extreme MAGA Republicans’ intent to criminalize women’s health freedom in all 50 states and arrest doctors for providing basic care.”
Several opinion polls show that a majority of Americans favor abortion rights. In a Washington Post-Schar School poll in July, 65 percent of respondents indicated that the end of Roe represented a “major loss of rights,” and almost a third said abortion will be one of the “single most important” issues when they vote in November.
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