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Lindsey Graham abortion ban bill splits GOP on midterm message

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Republicans are distancing themselves from Sen. Lindsey Graham’s recent proposal to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, as Democrats delay the bill as proof the GOP seeks to limit abortion nationwide if it wins control of Congress within the November midterm elections.

In Graham’s proposal, Democrats see one other probability to leverage a difficulty that has appeared to spice up their probabilities of holding at the least one chamber of Congress.

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The South Carolina Republican introduced the laws lower than three months after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, overturning decades-old federal abortion protections — and positioning abortion as a top issue within the midterms.

Graham’s announcement on Tuesday drove a fresh wave of headlines about abortion, as Democrats lined up to sentence the bill that may sharply narrow access to the procedure in blue states. It siphoned attention away from one other major headline of the day, a worse-than-expected inflation report that sent stocks plunging and was seen as a blow to the Biden administration’s claims of a recovering economy.

Graham’s approach also contradicted a technique taken by some Republicans, including those in high-profile races, after the high court’s abortion ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Many within the GOP have argued states, moderately than the federal government, should set abortion law.

In Pennsylvania, certainly one of a handful of battleground states that can determine which party wins the Senate, the brand new bill spurred Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz to say that he would keep the federal government from interfering with state-level abortion rules if elected. But Herschel Walker, the Republican vying for incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock’s Georgia seat in one other critical race, said he would back Graham’s laws.

In each states, the Democratic candidates used the problem to bash their GOP rivals.

“Oz needs to inform us — yes or no, would you support this bill?” Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the state’s Democratic Senate nominee, said in a press release Thursday morning. “I’ll go first: I’m a HELL NO.”

Graham’s move baffled even some Republican political experts. Some media outlets panned it as an unforced error at a pivotal moment when the fight over the House and Senate appears to have tightened.

“I do not know why he did it,” said Georgia-based GOP strategist Jay Williams. He suggested that Republicans’ midterm pitch should focus totally on the economy, where President Joe Biden has scored low approval marks.

“If you happen to’re winning the sport, you do not switch strategies,” Williams said. “If we’re talking about the rest, I feel it’s a nasty idea.”

Seth Weathers, a former Trump campaign aide in Georgia and political strategist, said he’s “a bit fearful that the way in which it is going to be sold to the general public could hurt Republicans within the midterms.”

Julianne Thompson, a political strategist and self-described pro-life Republican, said the economy “is the problem that’s winning for Republicans at once and the problem they should be focused on.”

National GOP groups have hardly leapt to back Graham this week.

Facebook and Twitter pages for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican National Committee haven’t mentioned or promoted Graham’s bill because it was announced. None of those groups’ Facebook pages have launched ads related to the bill, in response to the Meta Ad Library.

A Twitter account managed by the RNC tweeted about abortion without mentioning Graham on Wednesday, when it accused a pair of Democrats, Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams and House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of Latest York, of refusing to acknowledge any limits to the procedure. The NRSC on Wednesday did the identical, tweeting a criticism of the abortion stance of Democratic Rep. Val Demings, who’s difficult GOP Sen. Marco Rubio for his seat in Florida.

Graham attempted to border his laws as a response to Democrat-led proposals to codify abortion protections on the federal level. One such bill, recommend in May in response to a draft of the court’s ruling on Roe, failed within the Senate.

“They selected a bill that may not put us within the mainstream of the world but put us in a bunch of seven nations that allow abortion on demand just about as much as the purpose of birth,” Graham said at a press conference Tuesday.

Graham said his bill, which bans the procedure at 15 weeks’ gestation and includes exceptions for rape, incest and to avoid wasting the lifetime of the mother, would set America’s abortion policy at a level that’s “fairly consistent with the remaining of the world.”

“And that needs to be where America’s at,” the senator said.

The plan would go away in place stricter state abortion laws. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., has recommend a companion bill for the House.

While the title of Graham’s bill suggests it could bar only “late-term” abortions, it could restrict the procedure nationwide after lower than 4 months of pregnancy, a threshold that falls throughout the second trimester. Abortions are typically considered “late term” at 21 weeks of pregnancy or later, in response to the health-policy nonprofit KFF. However the organization notes that phrase just isn’t an official medical term, and that abortions at that stage are rarely sought and difficult to acquire.

Graham’s bill has virtually no probability of passing the present Congress, where Democrats hold slim majorities within the House and Senate. Republicans hope to take over each chambers within the midterms, when the incumbent president’s party has historically underperformed.

But some forecasters at the moment are favoring Democrats to maintain control of the Senate, a shift that has been attributed partly to the high court’s ruling in Dobbs. Republicans are favored to take the House, though the percentages have moved barely toward Democrats after that ruling got here out in late June.

Public opinion of the high court sunk after Dobbs, which overturned Roe in a 5-4 vote by a majority that features three justices nominated by former President Donald Trump. Abortion rights, meanwhile, have spiked as a top issue amongst voters.

A Fox News poll conducted in September and released Wednesday found 57% of voters support legal abortion in all or most cases, a 13-point jump from May.

The identical survey showed that voters’ opposition to the Dobbs decision has only grown within the months because it got here out, as respondent disapproval outweighed approval by nearly a 2 to 1 margin. And the survey found that amongst voters who see abortion as a chief concern, 56% would back the Democrat of their House district, versus 27% who would select the Republican.

Some Republicans, including GOP candidates in pivotal Senate races, have backed Graham’s recent proposal.

“I even have all the time been pro-life,” Rubio said when asked why he signed on to the bill. He pressed reporters to ask Democrats what abortion restrictions they might support, if any.

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Senate Republican, said he backed the bill. He told CNN that it changes the narrative that Republicans support a complete abortion ban “and provides candidates a spot to be for something that reflects their views and doesn’t fit the Democrats’ narrative.”

Pennsylvania-based Republican political strategist Christopher Nicholas echoed that view, telling CNBC that Graham’s bill marked “the primary strategic response from our side on this issue for the reason that Dobbs decision.”

“It could force the press to get the [Democrats] to acknowledge that the one accepted abortion position on their side is abortion on demand,” Nicholas said.

But other top Republicans either refused to back Graham’s bill or expressed a belief that individual states should set their very own abortion laws.

“I feel a lot of the members of my conference prefer that this might be handled on the state level,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who would set the GOP’s abortion agenda if the party wins Senate control in November, told reporters Tuesday when asked about Graham’s bill.

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the chairman of the NRSC, didn’t express support for the bill during an interview Wednesday on Fox News.

“Well, if you happen to go across the country, what individuals are focused on is the economy, their kids’ education, public safety,” Scott said when asked concerning the laws. “With regard to abortion, Democrats are clearly focused on abortion,” he added.

Asked for comment on the reactions to the bill, Graham spokesman Kevin Bishop noted that Rubio “has come on board.”

Republicans have long opposed abortion, and diverse red states imposed blanket bans on the procedure immediately after Roe’s reversal. But as polls show the vast majority of Americans disapprove of the court’s ruling — and as women reportedly outpace men in voter registrations in key states — many within the GOP have struggled to counter Democrats, who’ve made abortion a significant piece of their message.

“Although abortion just isn’t going to make a decision the midterms, it has been a difficulty that Democrats have been fundraising on and using to get more women registered to vote,” said Thompson, the Republican strategist.

“I’m very cognizant of the proven fact that my party needs higher messaging on this issue,” together with more women leaders speaking about abortion and related issues, she said.

The RNC earlier this week advised campaigns to hunt “common ground” on exceptions to abortion bans, and to press Democrats on their very own views, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. The national party also encouraged candidates to concentrate on topics equivalent to crime and the economy, the Post reported.

“The polls should be teaching them something, because I’m not hearing about abortion today,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said on the House floor Wednesday. “What’s their position now? America desires to know.”

Some Republican candidates who previously touted hardline positions on abortion during GOP primaries have softened or muted their views as they compete generally elections. As Graham’s bill brought a renewed focus to the problem, Democrats pounced.

“Herschel Walker thinks it’s an issue our country doesn’t have a national abortion ban,” Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., said of his Republican rival in a tweet Tuesday, before posting a video of Walker saying as much.

In Pennsylvania, Fetterman scheduled a press conference with OB/GYNs at Philadelphia city hall to criticize the proposed 15-week abortion ban. He pushed his opponent, Oz, to reply questions on his stance on the bill.

Oz, the Trump-backed celebrity doctor who’s trailing Fetterman within the polls, “is pro-life with three exceptions: lifetime of the mother, rape and incest,” his spokeswoman Brittany Yanick said in a press release.

“And as a senator, he’d wish to be sure that the federal government just isn’t involved in interfering with the state’s decisions on the subject,” she said.

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