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GOP Senator Proposes Federal Ban on Abortions After 15 Weeks

Sen. Lindsey Graham's bill would leave even stricter state laws in place.

Sen. Lindsey Graham's bill would also affect Democratic-led states that have laws protecting access to abortions.
Screenshot by CNET

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham on Tuesday introduced legislation calling for a nationwide ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The move comes as abortion is expected to be an important issue during the US midterm elections. 

Graham's bill is less strict than some state abortion laws enacted following the June decision by conservatives on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. But it would leave those stricter laws in place, and it would impact Democratic-led states that have laws protecting access to abortions.

Graham's proposed legislation includes exceptions for rape, incest or to save the mother's life. In contrast, laws now in effect in Ohio and Texas, for instance, ban abortions after six weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Under Graham's legislation, medical professionals who broke the law would face fines or jail time, though women wouldn't be prosecuted for having abortions that violate the ban. 

The new legislation has little chance of making it to the Senate floor while Democrats hold the majority. During a Tuesday press conference on Capitol Hill, Graham, of South Carolina, said that if Republicans regain control of the Senate, "I can assure you we'll have a vote on our bill."

Graham and many other Republicans had previously said, following the overturn of Roe, that abortion laws should be handled at the state level. The 1973 Roe ruling had established a constitutional right to abortion up to fetal viability, which is now about 23 weeks.

Even if Republicans take the majority next year following the November midterm elections, the legislation would still be difficult to advance under Senate rules, according to Bloomberg. It would also likely face a veto by President Joe Biden.

Graham previously introduced similar legislation in the Senate that proposed a nationwide ban on abortions after 20 weeks.