Lindsey Graham raises the Post-Roe America stakes even higher
The South Carolina senator’s proposed nationwide abortion ban comes as his colleagues would rather focus on the economy and immigration and most Americans say they support reproductive rights.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, Republican politicians and anti-abortion advocates defended the decision as a course correction that returned the issue back to the states.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina echoed this sentiment last month before he introduced a proposal for a nationwide abortion ban that he hopes Congress considers if the GOP wins the majority this November.
The bill is a political gamble that keeps a losing issue for Republicans in the news cycle when the GOP establishment would rather focus on historically high inflation, immigration and crime. It also will likely energize the coalition of voters Democrats will need to turn out in less than two months to keep Republicans from reclaiming control of the legislative branch.
Advocacy groups say the proposal confirms their deepest concerns that this was the end game for Republicans all along and view Graham’s proposal as an unpopular overreach that would criminalize abortion care even in states that have enshrined the right to reproductive freedom in their constitutions.
“It’s not too surprising because the strategy of many of these extremist anti-abortion legislators and lawmakers have been consistent: They want to go for really inserting their own draconian beliefs into law. And that’s where I’m not surprised at all,” Christian N. Nunes, president of the National Organization for Women told me on Tuesday morning. “But I think for the senators to try to pass this nationally is what’s appalling and concerning to me.”
Graham’s proposal would prohibit doctors from providing abortion care after 15 weeks of pregnancy — with exceptions for rape, incest or risks to the life and physical health of the mother — while leaving in place state laws with stricter abortion restrictions. (Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma in May signed a bill into law that bans abortion from the moment of fertilization and relies on lawsuits from private citizens to enforce it, similar to how Texas administers its own ban.)
Graham argues that his legislation puts the US in line with other the majority of European nations that limit abortion care to 15 weeks of pregnancy. But he failed to acknowledge that the majority of Americans — more than six in 10 — say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
But as quickly as Graham introduced it, his own colleagues are running away from it.
“Most of the members of my conference prefer that this be dealt with at the state level,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Tuesday.
Equally problematic is Graham’s reference both in the bill’s title and text to “late-term abortion,” which isn’t a medical term. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one percent of abortions happen later in pregnancy. And nearly 99 percent of abortions happen before a person is 21 weeks pregnant — and those that happen later almost all happen before 24 weeks.
“This phrase is used as a scare tactic. And it promotes fear for people because it’s emotionally driven,” Nunes said. “We need to make sure we’re steering the narrative back to facts in conversation. It’s not that people aren’t emotionally affected by this stuff but we need to make sure we’re reporting facts to counter disinformation and misinformation.”
It’s worth noting that abortions that may be necessary later in pregnancy almost always come after deliberate consultation between pregnant people and their doctors. What the abortion bans we’ve seen since the fall of Roe share in common are the criminalization of doctors for providing care to their patients.
Graham announced the bill at a press conference at the US Capitol, where he was joined by Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser and other anti-abortion women leaders.
“It is time to modernize our laws,” she said during the presser. “We thank Sen. Graham and [Republican] Rep. [Chris] Smith [of New Jersey] for their ongoing leadership in defense of women and the unborn and call on all pro-life Republicans as well as Democrats to support this commonsense legislation.
NARAL Pro-Choice America, a reproductive rights advocacy group, characterized SBA as perhaps the most influential in the anti-choice movement that lobbies for anti-choice policies and supports anti-choice candidates running for office. NARAL also attacked the Charlotte Lozier Institute, SBA’s so-called research extension, for disseminating disinformation that anti-choice Republicans reference in national and state legislatures.
SBA’s work doesn’t stop at its anti-abortion advocacy. SBA has spent millions of dollars in support of restrictions to the right to vote and Dannenfelser has falsely claimed that there was voter fraud in the 2020 election by “pro-abortion Democrats.”
SBA did not respond to multiple requests for comment on a series of questions from Supercreator.
Democratic leaders were emphatic and united in their condemnation of Graham’s proposal.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the bill wildly out of step with what Americans believe.
“While President Biden and Vice President Harris are focused on the historic passage of the Inflation Reduction Act to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, health care and energy — and to take unprecedented action to address climate change — Republicans in Congress are focused on taking rights away from millions of people,” she said in a statement. “The president and Vice President are fighting for progress, while Republicans are fighting to take us back.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said extreme Republicans are “gleefully charging ahead with their deadly crusade to punish and control women’s health decisions with Roe now out of their way.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer summed up his thoughts in a few words: “Proposals like the one today send a clear message from MAGA Republicans to women across the country: Your body, our choice.” (Friendly reminder: Women aren’t the only people who get pregnant.)
And Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate committee with jurisdiction over health care, called the introduction of a federal ban on abortion “chilling.”
Less than eight weeks until the midterms, the latest chapter in America’s abortion debate has resolidified the stakes of the election.
There’s no chance of a nationwide abortion ban becoming law as long as President Biden is in office. But his veto pen isn’t eternal. And if Republicans reclaim the House by a wide enough margin and flip a currently split Senate in their favor, one can only speculate when Democrats will have another opportunity to codify the right to abortion care.
Two lieutenant governors — John Fetterman of Pennsylvania and Mandela Barnes of Wisconsin — are campaigning to be the final two votes Senate Democrats nee to abolish the chamber’s 60-vote threshold required for most major legislation and reestablish Roe’s protections. (Spokespeople for the candidates’ campaigns did not respond to a request for comment.)
“The decision to get an abortion is a deeply personal one that should only ever be between a woman and her doctor — not politicians,” Danielle Melfi, executive director of Building Back Together, a pro-Biden advocacy group. “It’s essential that we have more allies in Congress who will stand up for the right of all people to make decisions about their own health for themselves.”
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Speaker Nancy Pelosi reaffirmed House Democrats’ commitment to ending the epidemic of intimate partner violence on the 28th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act. “As Americans mark today’s anniversary, let us honor both the memory of those stolen away by senseless violence and the profound courage of survivors across the country,” she said in a statement.
Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and the lead Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee called out credit products “Buy Now, Pay Later” services as predatory scams that trap consumers in debt. The products come with hidden fees, lack transparency and are improperly underwritten, Brown said during a hearing on the impacts of new consumer financial products on workers. The result is companies don’t know if they’re the only ones a consumer has credit with and consumers are left in the dark without proper term disclosures. “For this model to work for consumers, we need real rules companies must follow, and proper disclosures,” Brown added.
Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington led 29 of her colleagues in a letter to the Health and Human Services Department calling on it to strengthen federal privacy protections under the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to broadly restrict providers from sharing patients’ reproductive health information without their explicit consent. The push from the Senators comes as legislators and prosecutors across the country have sought to enforce Republicans’ abortion bans by investigating women and doctors for seeking and providing abortion care.
Related: Sen. Murray led 18 colleagues in a letter to the Education Department commending the agency on its work to strengthen Title IX, the 50-year-old civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or any other education program that receives funding from the federal government. The Senators also encouraged the Department to take additional steps to further strengthen protections for survivors, providing instructions to schools to protect students’ privacy and records documenting their pregnancy status in the wake of the abortion bans that have taken effect since the end of the last academic year.
Inflation remained high in August despite lower gas prices, which have fallen for 91 straight days. The cost of rent and groceries ate up the money Americans saved at the pump.
Related: President Biden said that it would take more time to bring inflation down but the Inflation Reduction Act he celebrated on the South Lawn this afternoon will help. “[M]y economic plan is showing that, as we bring prices down, we are creating good paying jobs and bringing manufacturing back to America.”
The Justice Department announced $224.9 million in grants to enhance victim services and justice solutions for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. Grantees can use the grants to provide lifesaving services for hundreds of thousands of survivors each year, improve investigations and prosecutions, reach survivors in rural communities and leverage the services of statewide coalitions charged with supporting local programs with training and service coordination.
The State Department released its five-year strategic plan for diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the plan will make workforce data more accessible to Department leadership teams and employees alike, set goals for recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce, enhance the reasonable accommodations process, and establish concrete measures to promote greater inclusivity for women, employees with disabilities, LGBTQ+ employees, and religious, racial and ethnic minorities.
The Education Department announced an additional $2.5 million investment to ensure that all families have the information and training they need to participate effectively in helping their children and navigating the special education system. The announcement comes as Education Secretary Miguel Cardona is on a week-long multi-state road trip that today stopped at a school in Virginia, where a culture of inclusion for all students with disabilities is prioritized.
Younger Americans have rallied around President Biden following approval of the climate-focused Inflation Reduction Act and his decision to forgive up to $20,000 in college loans. His approval jumped 6.6 points to 49, the highest since April, as his standing among independents has dramatically improved. (Jed Graham / Investor’s Business Daily)
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TODAY IN POLITICS
President Biden this morning received his daily intelligence briefing and then hosted the Inflation Reduction Act celebration this afternoon. He was joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff.
The vice president also participated in a moderated armchair conversation at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute 2022 Leadership Conference.
Dr. Biden is now speaking at a Boys & Girls Clubs of America summit in Washington DC on emotional wellness and mental health, life and workforce readiness and diversity, equity and inclusion.
The House is in and scheduled to take several votes this evening, including a resolution to honor the late Queen Elizabeth. Speaker Nancy Pelosi will swear in Democratic Reps.-elect Mary Peltola of Alaska and Pat Ryan of New York and Republican Rep.-elect Joe Sempolinski of New York.
The Senate is in and voted to confirm Arianna J. Freeman to be US Circuit Court Judge for the Third Circuit (Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania) and advance the nomination of Lara E. Montecalvo to be US Circuit Judge for the First Circuit (Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico and Rhode Island).
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