Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced a bill Tuesday that has no chance of advancing while Democrats control the Senate—a nationwide ban on abortions after 15 weeks. The Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act includes exceptions for incest or rape, though patients will have to prove they have sought counseling or reported the assault to law enforcement, Politico reports. Graham said it was "up to elected officials to define the issue" and promised that there would be a vote on the bill if Republicans regain control of the House and Senate after the midterm elections.
Abortion rights activists criticized the use of the phrase "late-term abortions" to describe abortions after 15 weeks, when the term usually refers to abortions between 21 and 24 weeks, the Washington Post reports. The Post notes that abortion bans at 15 or 20 weeks "disproportionately affect patients with fetal anomalies, which are often detected at a 20-week anatomy scan." Graham said anti-abortion groups including the Susan B. Anthony List had persuaded him to move the limit in his bill from 20 weeks to 15 weeks.
Before Roe v. Wade was overturned, conservatives had been pushing for a federal "heartbeat bill" that would outlaw almost all abortions. In recent months, more than a dozen GOP-led states have introduced strict abortion bans. Graham's bill—which the New York Times sees an effort to strike a balance between Republicans who want a near-total ban on abortion and those who want more modest limits—would allow them to remain in place. The White House slammed the bill as "wildly out of step with what Americans believe" and said Democrats are committed to restoring abortion rights, per the Post. (Read more abortion stories.)