What I think Lindsey Graham is doing with her 15-week abortion ban



CNN

On Tuesday, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham introduced a bill that ban abortion nationwide after 15 weekswith the exception of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is in danger.

Which leads to an obvious question: Why?

After all, Republicans have been desperately backing down on the abortion issue almost from the moment the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this summer, ending the constitutional right to abortion.

Republican candidates have been busy cleaning your websites of their more strident language on abortion, which, in many cases, helped them win their primaries, seeing the political pushback in the general electorate.

Recent vote suggests that while public opinion is more divided on a 15-week ban compared to the court’s overturning of Roe, which is generally unpopular, most Americans still oppose Graham’s proposed limit.

And Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell seemed less than enthusiastic about Graham’s gambit. McConnell told CNN’s Manu Raju that he believed most Republican senators would prefer to leave the abortion issue in the hands of the states.

The resistance that Graham’s plan encountered almost immediately, and the jubilation with which Democrats latched onto it, suggests it may be short-lived.

But it’s worth asking: What was he trying to do?

Here’s my theory: Graham sees that his party is being criticized over the issue. And some conservative states now have near-total bans on abortion instead. Which puts Republicans running for Senate across the country constantly on the defensive, trying to defend a position that is wildly unpopular with the public.

And so Graham is trying to give the GOP candidates something to talk about that he believes threads the needle between keeping the GOP base, which adamantly opposes abortion in all its forms, happy and not totally alienating the center of the electorate. .

Graham hopes to give Republicans a positive talking point on the abortion issue, something his side can point to as evidence that they are not the bigoted ogres that Democrats have, to date, effectively portrayed them to be in the wake of the the Supreme Court.

The alternative analysis of Graham’s move is that he deeply believes that abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy should be banned and that his side should be on record. Period. But while Graham may well believe that, he is too smart to simply implement this plan less than two months before an election without considering the political consequences of doing so.

(Sidebar: The fact that House Republicans are also pushing a 15-week ban, and unveiled it the same day Graham did, suggests a level of coordination that points to politics being behind it all.) this).

It will work? It’s not entirely clear, especially since Democrats control the Senate, which makes Graham’s tactics somewhat dependent on what Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer thinks is the right political move for his side. .

Point: Graham’s ploy is a major flashpoint in the fight for a majority in the Senate. It remains to be seen who it helps and who it hurts.

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