WASHINGTON -- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced a bill on Thursday that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in the United States unless the woman is a victim of rape or incest or her life is in danger.
Graham said that while reproductive rights advocates claim the bill will have a negative effect on women's health, he thinks it would only result in more people being alive.
"Nothing bad is going to happen," Graham said. "Good things will happen. Babies will be born that wouldn't have made it otherwise, and only God knows who they will grow up to be."
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which the House passed in June, places a gestational limit on abortions based on the scientifically disputed theory that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks. The bill contains no exceptions for cases in which a severe fetal anomaly is discovered later in the pregnancy.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) called the bill "blatantly political" and said it's going nowhere in the Democratically controlled Senate.
"I’m here today to provide a simple reality check," she said in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday morning. “We’re not going back. We’re not going back on settled law. We’re not going to take away a woman’s ability to make her own decisions about her own health care and her own body. Women are not going back to a time when laws forced them into back alleys and made them subject to primitive and unsanitary care."
When the House held a hearing on the 20-week abortion ban in May, Democrats brought forward a witness who said she had made the difficult decision to have a late-term abortion because doctors had discovered her fetus was essentially brain-dead. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) told the woman she should have carried the fetus to term.
"Ms. Zink, having my great sympathy and empathy both, I still come back wondering, shouldn’t we wait ... and see if the child can survive before we decide to rip him apart?" Gohmert said. "So these are ethical issues, they’re moral issues, they’re difficult issues, and the parents should certainly be consulted. But it just seems like, it’s a more educated decision if the child is in front of you to make those decisions."
NARAL Pro-Choice America released a new cable television ad on Thursday featuring another woman who chose to have an abortion after 20 weeks because her fetus' brain was not properly formed. The ad aims to defeat the 20-week ban in the Senate, and it will run all week.
The Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade protects a woman's right to have an abortion up until the fetus would be viable outside the womb, which doctors estimate to occur around 22 to 24 weeks. But Graham said it's time to have another "robust discussion" about life and when it should be protected, since science has come a long way since that landmark ruling.
"We should speak as much as possible with one voice, and here's what we should say when it comes to abortion going into the sixth month of pregnancy," he said. "The state has a compelling interest in protecting that unborn child, and it is appropriate for us, if we choose, to speak up on behalf of that unborn child, because they can feel pain."