Lindsey Graham to Sponsor 20-Week Abortion Ban in Senate

The bill, a companion to the House's HR 1797, would ban abortions after 20 weeks in all 50 states.

With a potentially tough Republican primary ahead of him, Sen. Lindsey Graham (pictured above) took the lead on a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks post-fertilization--after Sen. Marco Rubio turned down the opportunity. USSenLindseyGraham / YouTube

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will sponsor a Senate bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks in all 50 states, the Washington Times reported Thursday night.

Graham is expected to introduce the bill, which is similar to the House’s HR 1797, next week. HR 1797, the “Pain-Capable Infant Protection Act,” was based on model legislation drawn up by the National Right to Life Committee. It passed the House in June, but has no chance of passing the Senate.

HR 1797 contained no exceptions for protecting the woman’s health or for fetal anomalies, and its rape and incest exceptions put the burden on women to report their assault to the authorities, as Rewire reported in June.

The idea that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks has been medically disproven; one researcher compared it to trying to make a land-line phone call with no telephone poles, since nerves don’t reach the brain until the 26th week of pregnancy.

Any legislation banning abortion at 20 weeks would be a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, which allows abortion up until viability, at roughly 24 weeks.

Anti-choice groups are cheering the bill, which also likely has no chance of passing the majority-Democrat Senate, and would be vetoed by President Obama if it ever came to his desk.

The Washington Times reported that even some of Graham’s Republican colleagues have reservations about the bill, citing concerns about whether using the commerce clause to regulate abortion in this way is constitutional.

Graham may be sponsoring this legislation to endear himself to the Tea Party in South Carolina, which views Graham unfavorably and may try to mount a primary challenge against him. While Graham is still ahead in the polls, his advisers fear his chances could be hurt by a long, drawn-out runoff.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announced plans to sponsor similar legislation this summer, but he has not yet done so. Like Graham, Rubio faces opposition from the right-wing Republican base over issues like immigration, and may try to placate the Tea Party by advocating for restrictions on reproductive health.