Opinion Lindsey Graham delivered a gift to Democrats: Proof of GOP’s abortion extremism
At a moment when Republican candidates are furiously scrubbing evidence of their extreme anti-abortion views from their websites, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) has underscored the determination of Republicans to enact a regime of forced birth throughout the United States.
Graham introduced a bill on Tuesday — just eight weeks before Election Day — that would impose a nationwide abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy (barely into the second trimester). While he provides an exception in cases where the pregnancy would kill the woman, he provides no other exceptions to protect the health of women. Given the overwhelming popularity of the pro-choice position — even in red states such as Kansas — the proposal is a gift to Democrats.
The Post reports: “The timing of Graham’s announcement is curious — two months before the midterm elections, after abortion has already shown to be a galvanizing issue for some Democratic voters.” In introducing the bill, Graham jerked attention away from the inflation numbers released on Tuesday. Why would he do this? After all, The Post reports, “Republicans have been forced to reckon with a growing trove of data suggesting that abortion could be a decisive issue in the midterms, motivating Democratic and independent voters far more than was widely expected.”
Perhaps Graham is more concerned with ingratiating himself with the far right than with helping his party regain the majority. Whatever the reason, he has certainly lent a hand to Democrats who’ve been focusing on slippery Republicans trying to deny ownership of their past radical views.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tried to minimize the damage. “I think most of the members of my conference prefer that this be dealt with at the state level,” he weakly told reporters. Now, the Republican leader faces a dilemma: He cannot deny Republicans’ intentions without infuriating the right-wing base, and he cannot encourage Graham without driving Democrats to vote.
Democrats, eager to highlight Republicans’ dreadfully unpopular position, could hardly believe their political good fortune. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) went to the Senate floor to argue that Graham’s effort to introduce “a radical bill to institute a nationwide restriction on abortions.” Schumer continued, “Proposals like the one today send a clear message from MAGA Republicans to women across the country: your body, our choice.” He was only too happy to point out that “Republicans are twisting themselves into pretzels trying to explain why they want nationwide abortion bans when they said they’d leave it up to the states.” Schumer is right that “this has never been about states’ rights.”
The White House put out a statement as well. Graham’s bill “is wildly out of step with what Americans believe,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre argued. “The President and Vice President are fighting for progress, while Republicans are fighting to take us back.” The message was clear: Vote for Democrats or allow Republicans to put “personal health care decisions in the hands of politicians instead of women and their doctors, threatening women’s health and lives.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in a statement, decried the bill as “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.” She was equally clear: Unless voters want measures “criminalizing abortion nationwide, rejecting women’s right to travel for health care and even eliminating the right to birth control,” they should vote for Democrats.
Graham has provided a real service to the electorate. No voter need be confused about the two parties’ position on women’s autonomy, health care and constitutional rights. When Republicans tout a national abortion ban — or denounce the FBI or downplay Jan. 6 or oppose a slew of popular bills — they are telling us precisely what they stand for. Voters should listen."