Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is ramping up his pro-life efforts, and today unveiled the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
“These babies who have been taken out of the womb at 20 weeks can feel pain, and some have survived,” Graham says, in an interview with National Review Online. “We need to get the courts to establish this as a legitimate state interest to protect unborn children.”
Graham hopes Senate Republicans will support the bill, though he acknowledges some of his colleagues have raised constitutional concerns. “My view is that it’s constitutional,” he says. “We just need to vote, and then we can let the courts figure that out. We’re not the Supreme Court, we’re elected officials.”
As NRO’s Alec Torres has reported, “pro-life lawmakers expressed concern with the idea of this legislation, citing fears of congressional overreach. Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah), for example, worries that Congress does not have the authority to pass such a bill under the Commerce Clause, as it has been proposed.”
Graham, who is up for reelection next year, says it’s important to bring social issues back into the fold as the midterms approach. “The goal is to have a vote in 2014, to make sure we vote on it,” he says. “It’s worth having this debate. The more people understand what we’re trying to do, the more public support will grow over time.
“Due to the Democrats’ control of the Senate, it’ll be tough to get a majority,” he adds. “But we should push for a vote.”
Graham worked closely with the Susan B. Anthony List and the National Right to Life Committee to craft the legislation. In June, the House passed a similar bill by a 228–196 margin.