Graham introduces legislation that bans abortions nationwide after 15 weeks

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, introduced new legislation that would create a federal ban on any abortions after 15 weeks as confusion reigns among providers over how to handle the overturning of Roe. 

The Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act would install a federal limit on abortions and have exceptions for rape, incest and to save the life of the mother. Graham, the lead sponsor, said that his legislation is meant to be a counter to an effort by Democrats to codify Roe v. Wade after the Supreme Court overturned it in late June

“They had a chance to vote on their bill. I’m asking for a chance to vote on my bill,” he said during a press conference Tuesday on the legislation.

Graham noted that the 15-week ban brings America in line with most European countries. He acknowledged that there isn’t much of a chance for the legislation to get a vote in the Democratic-controlled Congress but would be a marker for future congressional sessions.

“We stay on this and keep talking about it. Maybe less than a decade from now this will be law,” the senator said.

Graham’s bill comes amid a myriad of conflicting state laws and regulations that providers need to abide by in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling, which left the issue of abortion up to states. Soon after the ruling, Graham had said that it was right to leave the decision on abortion up to states. 

However, he said Tuesday that the nationwide ban is an attempt to show where Republicans are on the issue, especially in light of the Democrats' efforts to codify Roe. 

A recent poll found 70% of those surveyed were confused about what is considered a “life-threatening emergency,” which enables a doctor to perform a legal abortion in a state where the procedure is banned. 

Another 79% were concerned that doctors are being asked to wait until the last minute where it is clear a patient will die before the procedure is conducted, according to the survey from Sermo. 

Graham’s bill introduction comes as the federal government continues to fight states over guidance to physicians on performing abortions as part of emergency care. 

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidance after the Dobbs ruling that said physicians are required to perform abortions if needed for emergency care, even if the case is in a state that banned abortion. The agency said the guidance was to ensure physicians remain in compliance with federal law. 

However, Texas sued HHS over the guidance, arguing that it oversteps state authority to enforce a “legal code.”