Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday said abortion is “not a states’ rights issue” as he continues to promote his legislation that would ban abortions nationwide after 15 weeks.
In an interview on “Fox & Friends,” Graham acknowledged that his legislation goes against conservative ideas of federalism and letting individual states decide their own laws.
“This is not a states’ rights issue. This is a human right issue,” Graham said. “So, no matter what California or Maryland will do … I am going to advocate a national minimum standard.”
Graham’s comments come a week after he introduced the bill, the most serious effort to date by Republicans in Congress to pass a nationwide abortion restriction after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Graham, who just last month said the Supreme Court made the correct decision by leaving abortion decisions up to states, last week said he didn’t see a contradiction and was motivated to act following attempts by Democrats to enshrine abortion protections into federal law.
“After [Democrats] introduced a bill to define who they are, I thought it’d be nice to introduce a bill to define who we are,” Graham said.
He said elected officials have the power to define and regulate abortion, including in Congress.
“Abortion is 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 state level. And we have the ability in Washington to speak on this issue if we choose,” Graham said at a press conference introducing his bill. “I have chosen to speak.”
On Tuesday, Graham further clarified where he stood on the issue of letting states decide their own laws.
“I do not believe federalism requires me to sit on the sidelines and watch a baby at 30 weeks, 28 weeks be dismembered. I will not do that,” he said.
The proposal represented a headache for Republican leadership, who have been trying to avoid discussing abortion issues just two months before the midterm elections.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his leadership team want to focus instead on President Biden’s handling of the economy and inflation.
Republicans in battleground states are trying to navigate a growing voter backlash to the Supreme Court decision while also appealing to the party’s base, which is pushing for immediate action on imposing total abortion bans.
Graham last week said that he did not consult with McConnell before making his push for a 15-week abortion ban.
During the “Fox & Friends” interview, Graham said McConnell was wrong to avoid the issue and instead should make it clear that Republicans are an anti-abortion party.
“And let me tell you why I think Mitch is wrong. He’s pro-life. So, let’s talk about a broken border. Let’s talk about rampant crime. Let’s talk about out-of-control inflation. Let’s talk about failing foreign policy and withdrawal from Afghanistan. But when you’re on the stump, people need to know who you are and where you are,” Graham said.