- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 11, 2015

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham unveiled a bill Thursday to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, shouldering a key piece of the pro-life agenda that’s already passed the House but faces a steeper climb in the upper chamber.

Mr. Graham, of South Carolina, said his Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would put the U.S. on the “right side of history” in the long-running debate over abortion.

“There are only seven countries that allow wholesale abortions at the 20-week period including China and North Korea,” said Mr. Graham, who is running for president. “The United States should not be in that club.”

Forty-two states already prohibit abortion after a certain point in the pregnancy, with 10 using the 20-week threshold — the point where some controversial research says fetuses can feel pain.

Pro-choice groups say the federal bill is unconstitutional and unnecessary. Abortions after 20 weeks are rare and usually involve some type of medical complication, they said, so the decision should be left to women and their doctors.

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, accused Mr. Graham of putting his political ambitions ahead of good policy.

“He is choosing to use his position in the Senate to advance an abortion ban to bolster his long-shot White House bid in a shameless play to early state ultra-conservative voters,” she said.

To become law, the GOP-driven legislation would have to overcome a likely Democratic filibuster in the Senate and to get by President Obama, who has vowed a veto, saying the bill restricts women’s choices at a difficult time for them.

Mr. Graham has acknowledged those challenges, pitching his legislation as “start of a journey.”

“I have no doubt the legislation will one day be passed by Congress and signed into law,” he said.

Like the House version, Mr. Graham’s bill says women who become pregnant because of rape are exempt from the 20-week cutoff, so long as they’ve received counseling or medical treatment at least 48 hours before the procedure.

In cases of incest, the bill would exempt minors who report the incident to a government agency or law enforcement. It also provides an exemption in cases where the pregnant woman’s life is in danger.

Earlier this year, House dropped a provision that would have required women to report a rape to the police.

The stipulation had forced GOP leaders to withdraw the bill in January, after Republican women lawmakers argued victims had been through enough without having to prove a legal case.

Instead, the House passed a bill that banned government-subsidized abortion through Obamacare, disappointing thousands of pro-life marchers who hoped to see a 20-week ban as they descended on Washington to protest the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade establishing a legal right to abortion.

The House resurrected the bill in May. It passed in a 242-184 vote that largely broke along party lines.

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