GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham says abortion 'is not a states' rights issue,' weeks after expressing that 'states should decide the issue of abortion'
- Graham during a Monday "Fox & Friends" interview said abortion was "not a states' rights issue."
- Last month, he said during a CNN discussion that states "should decide the issue of abortion."
Sen. Lindsey Graham said that abortion was "not a states' rights issue," just weeks after expressing that individual states "should decide the issue of abortion."
While speaking with panelists on the Fox News program "Fox & Friends," on Monday night, the South Carolina Republican remarked on his proposed national abortion ban, which would bar the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The proposal has attracted some opposition from fellow GOP lawmakers, who maintain that the issue is best left to the states.
"This is not a states' rights issue. This is a human right issue," Graham said on Monday. "At 15 weeks, a baby sucks his thumb, at 20 weeks you are encouraged to sing to a child.
He continued: "I don't care what California does on most things. I care here. I am not going to sit on the sidelines in Washington, DC, and tell the pro-life community, 'Washington is closed for business.' I do not believe federalism requires me to sit on the sidelines and require a baby at 30 weeks, 28 weeks be dismembered. I will not do that."
Graham during a CNN interview last month argued that he had been "consistent" on the issues of abortion and marriage equality — which have become prominent subjects in the national political discourse after the Supreme Court earlier this summer voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the United States and afforded a constitutional right to the procedure.
"I've been consistent — I think states should decide the issue of marriage and states should decide the issue of abortion," he said at the time.
"I have respect for South Carolina. South Carolina voters I trust to define marriage and to deal with the issue of abortion, not nine people on the court. That's my view," he added.
Graham last Tuesday introduced an abortion bill — which he said was similar to most European nations — that would include exceptions for rape, incest, or to protect the physical health of the mother.
The conservative lawmaker's legislative proposal comes at a pivotal time for the GOP; the party is being hammered by Democrats over the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe, which has proven to be unpopular in most major polling.
In a Wall Street Journal poll released earlier this month, 60% of respondents felt that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, a five-percentage point increase from March — when Roe was still the law of the land.
Democrats have sought to use the issue of abortion to appeal to wavering independents and suburbanites who may feel as though the court ruling went too far.
But Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida — who is up for reelection this November and faces Democratic Rep. Val Demings — is a cosponsor of Graham's bill.
Georgia GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker — who is locked in a competitive race with Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock — said that he would back Graham's bill, though he also remarked that the issue should be left to the states.
"I am a proud pro-life Christian, and I will always stand up for our unborn children," Walker said in a statement last week. "I believe the issue should be decided at the state level, but I WOULD support this policy."
However, Colorado Republican Senate nominee Joe O'Dea, who is supportive of some abortion rights, criticized the Graham measure, calling it "reckless and tone deaf."
O'Dea indicated support for the legislative push by Sens. Tim Kaine of Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to reach a compromise on abortion.
The proposed bill would codify "the essential holdings" of Roe into law and safeguard access to contraception.
"Senators Kaine, Sinema, Collins, and Murkowski are providing leadership on behalf of the overwhelming majority of Americans," he said. "We need more bipartisan dialogue and less partisan peacocking from both sides."
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