Senate Republicans may make a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy an issue in the 2014 elections, with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., arguing that opposition to the bill is a political loser for Democrats.
"We’re talking about a baby that science and medicine is urging parents to talk to because they can hear," Graham said on Capitol Hill today during a news conference with Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and leaders of pro-life groups.
"When it comes to abortion going into the sixth month of pregnancy, because the child is pain-capable, the state has a compelling interest in protecting that unborn child, apart from viability," Graham said.
The Washington Examiner first reported last week that Graham would introduce the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in the Senate, after the House passed companion legislation before the summer recess. The Senate bill has 35 Republican sponsors, including Graham.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life non-profit group, hailed Graham's announcement as "an historic" development.
"The U.S. Senate is considering for the first time since Roe v. Wade protecting a class of unborn children at a certain stage," Dannenfelser said. "Real lives will be saved and real women will be protected."
Liberal critics have already cited Graham's proposal to say conservatives don't care about women, as they have argued in elections since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortions through the second trimester of pregnancy.
"Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and his anti-woman GOP buddies are gearing up to introduce a bill that would prevent abortions after just 20 weeks," EMILY's List's Melissa Ryan emailed to supporters this week.
"We have to stop this bill before it gets anywhere near our bodies," she wrote.
Graham, who wants the Senate to vote on the bill in 2014, thinks the issue will play well for Republicans in the next election.
"Any Democrat who is for late-term abortions would probably be a loser in the eyes of the electorate as a whole," he said.
"I don’t believe it’s a loser in American politics for any politician to sincerely say, 'If you’re asking the mother and the father to talk and sing to the child and you can’t do surgery without anesthesia because of the pain that child feels, then I want to help bring that child into the world,'" he also said.
Graham also denied that he decided to introduce the bill in order to appease South Carolina Republicans who might be considering voting for one of his primary challengers, although he thinks they'll like this bill.
"Will it wipe away all the other criticisms?" Graham laughed. "No."