The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday February 8th

Column: The GOP's hypocrisy on abortion rights

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks on southern border security and illegal immigration, during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 30, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images/TNS)
Buy Photos U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks on southern border security and illegal immigration, during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 30, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images/TNS)

On Sept. 13, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), introduced the Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act. 

Graham and his team claim that the legislation would federally ban abortion after 15 weeks of gestation – supposedly when unborn children can feel pain, although this is contested.

This act leaves in place state abortion bans that are more restrictive and allows for abortions after 15 weeks only in situations involving rape, incest or risks to the physical health of the pregnant person.

Graham’s proposed bill is not only receiving backlash from Democrats, but also from many Republicans who declared that abortion laws should be left up to the states.

Graham himself once shared this sentiment, before reversing his position with this proposal. In this very bill, he cites the Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization – the case that overturned Roe v. Wade: ‘‘[i]t is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.’’ 

This excerpt from Dobbs is meant to give the right to create abortion restrictions back to the states – and it is in direct disagreement with  Graham's goal of creating a federal abortion law. Not only is this bill a serious violation of reproductive freedom, but it is also a hypocritical effort to satisfy the conservative need for control over people’s bodies.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – one of many Republicans who prefer the issue of abortion be left up to the states – has failed to throw his full support behind Graham's bill.

Graham has also previously expressed support for abortion being handled at the state level. In May, he tweeted: “That, in my view, is the most constitutionally sound way of dealing with this issue and the way the United States handled the issue until 1973.” 

Obviously, his views on this have changed.

Graham’s bill arrives just before the November midterm elections, where abortion rights will be a contentious issue. Many Democrats argue that a Republican majority in Congress would lead to more restrictions on reproductive rights, and have used Graham's proposed bill to bolster this claim. 

But Graham thinks his proposed federal abortion ban should be a part of the midterm elections campaign process for Republicans. He wants his bill to represent the consensus view of the majority of groups opposing abortion rights.

Although abortion remains a fairly partisan issue, there are ideological differences within both the Democratic and Republican parties over abortion. These differences are extremely evident within the GOP.

Sixty-one percent of adults in the U.S. believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared to only 37 percent who believe abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. This suggests that Graham’s bill will most likely face disapproval from many voters who will be heading to the polls in November.

Furthermore, after the Dobbs ruling, public opinion of the Supreme Court has decreased, while abortion rights have spiked as a top issue. Among voters who believe abortion is an important issue this election season, 56 percent would support the Democrat in their district, while 27 percent would support the Republican.

Republicans are hoping to take back control of the House and Senate, but this effort to impose a national abortion ban might help inspire a Democratic victory. Abortion rights advocates are using Graham’s proposed bill to build further support for Democratic midterm election candidates.

Democrats are predicted to keep control of the Senate, while Republicans are more predicted to win a majority in the house, though the odds have moved slightly toward Democrats after the Dobbs ruling came out in late June. Meanwhile, polls indicate attitudes on abortion shifting towards for “pro-choice” ideologies after Roe was overturned.

Some Republican candidates have even moderated their views on abortion as campaigns continue, despite their previously expressed positions on abortion.

It seems as though the Republican Party is unclear as to where it stands on abortion rights — whether the power should be left up to the states or the federal government and whether abortion restrictions are a strong or weak aspect of the Republican campaign.

Either way, if you are an advocate for reproductive freedom like me, you can trust that the Democratic Party will make abortion rights and reproductive freedom a major campaign topic in the midterm elections. This should further inspire you to head to the polls in November and vote to protect abortion rights.


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