Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced legislation Tuesday that would ban abortions federally after 15 weeks gestation, except for situations involving rape, incest, and risks to the life and health of the mother.
“We will introduce legislation … to basically get America in a position at the federal level [that] I think is fairly consistent with the rest of the world,” said Graham, who announced the Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act at a press conference Tuesday.
“The science tells us at the 15-week period, the nerve endings of the baby are pretty well developed and the child feels pain,” the senator explained, noting that at that stage, doctors will provide anesthesia to babies during emergency operations.
“So here’s our point – that if you have to provide anesthesia to keep the baby from feeling pain to help save its life, should we as a nation be aborting babies that can feel excruciating pain from an abortion?” he questioned.
According to a Tuesday press release from Graham’s office, more than 55,000 babies are aborted at 15 weeks gestation or later each year in the United States, and the majority of late-term abortions are performed for elective reasons.
At the press conference, Graham noted that many European nations have banned abortions at even earlier than 15 weeks, stating that his bill would set “a standard in America that would prohibit abortions during the birthing process at a stage where it’s pretty clear from the science and most of the world this should be a no-go unless there’s some extraordinary reason.”
Exceptions outlined in the bill include situations where the abortion is deemed medically necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman “whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, but not including psychological or emotional conditions,” as well as those involving rape and incest, provided certain conditions have been met.
Notably, in those exceptional cases, the bill would also require that the physician terminating the pregnancy do so “only in the manner which, in reasonable medical judgment, provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive.”
The bill also requires that a second physician trained in neonatal resuscitation be present if the child is believed capable of survival outside the womb, and that, if born alive, the child receive the same level of care as one carried to full-term.
The proposed legislation follows Senate Democrats’ failed attempts to codify extreme abortion protections in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling that abortion is not a constitutional right.
Criticizing those attempts Tuesday, Graham said: “The first thing I would say about the Dobbs decision is abortion’s not banned in America – it’s left up to elected officials in America to define the issue. … States have the ability to do it at the state level, and we have the ability in Washington to speak on this issue if we choose. I have chosen to speak.”