What Does Lindsey Graham’s ‘Abortion Ban’ Accomplish?

 

You’ve likely seen the headlines, often wildly inaccurate, on Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) legislation to federalize abortion laws. It would prohibit abortions after 15 weeks, which some claim is when a fetus feels pain, except to save the life of the mother.

“Lindsey Graham’s national abortion ban bill makes the midterm stakes very clear,” screamed Vox, a leftist blog site. “Lindsey Graham proposes new national abortion restrictions bill,” proclaimed Axios, a fast-growing leftist news site.

Put aside for now the political wisdom – or lack thereof – of a Republican Member of Congress advocating for a national abortion law during an election (in which he’s conveniently not on the ballot). How would Graham’s legislation affect the prevalence of abortion today?

Not much. I wrote about it last September not long after the US Supreme Court decided to hear Dobbs vs. Jackson, which the Supreme Court in July used to overturn Roe vs. Wade and Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. Daniel Flynn from The American Spectator (emphasis added):

The Lozier Institute released data indicating that the abortions banned under Senator Lindsey Graham’s proposal represent fringe cases. “State and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) abortion data indicate that overall, approximately 6% of all reported abortions take place at or after 15 weeks of gestation,” the group notes in a press release. “When applied to the Guttmacher Institute’s most recent estimate of 930,160 abortions nationwide in 2020, this is approximately 55,800 abortions at 15 weeks or later each year.” In other words, women who wait around until four-months pregnant to terminate a pregnancy number very few. Why does the Left then seek to defend something so barbarous—and rare? Denmark, Germany, Portugal, Austria, and other European countries severely restrict abortion even earlier than when Senator Graham proposes. A national law on this question, in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning a de facto national law preventing abortion restrictions, strikes as politically unwise. But who but a liar pretends that what Graham proposes, rather than the abortion-on-demand schema of his opponents, strikes as the oh-the-humanity outlier?


Source: abort73.com

Politically, Graham’s bill is a head-scratcher. True, Republicans generally are stumbling badly on communicating about abortion. The Senator sees a vacuum and wants to fill it. The components of this bill may test well in public polling. Some may think it contrasts effectively with the fact that every Democrat in Congress has voted for legislation to permit abortion, for any reasons, by any means, up to birth, and even strikes state parental notification laws. Such an approach is favored by only about 10 percent of voters. Just pointing that out would be a massive messaging improvement for conservatives. Having Congress determine abortion law is only favored by 31 percent in a recent poll.

Michigan, Vermont, and California voters will vote on such a policy in November under the guise of “reproductive freedom” or “automony.” Michigan’s initiative (and the misbranded Women’s Health Protection Act) includes a phony “ban” on abortions after fetal viability with a huge exception loophole for “mental health.”

But strong pro-life voters and ardent supporters of practically unlimited abortions won’t be mollified. This election is mostly about the economy (inflation and affordability), with crime and our open southern border foremost in voters’ minds. Abortion falls after that in most voters’ minds. But among those who place this issue closer to the top of their concerns will not support Graham’s approach, never mind the inadvisability of elevating the abortion issue some seven weeks before congressional elections. States, not Congress, is the battlefield on this issue, at least for now.

When engaged in congressional campaigns, I always focused my late messaging on what question I want voters to ask when deciding whom to vote for. Best example: Ronald Reagan’s closing debate question in 1980: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”


GOP challenger Ronald Reagan closed his debate with President Jimmy Carter with the question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”

In 2022, Republicans need voters to ask, “Which candidate will help or hurt Joe Biden’s agenda?” After all, Biden continues to suffer from “underwater” job approval ratings and horrific right-track-wrong-track numbers. Having an agenda that contrasts with Biden’s unpopular one is helpful if it is simple and well-communicated. Focusing on their opponent’s extremism – including their radical support for unfettered abortions – will help cement moderate and swing voters who are already clearly leaning the GOP’s way in 2022. Voters almost always see midterm elections as a referendum on the incumbent president.

Graham’s abortion bill is unwise and unwelcome, both politically and substantively. Add to that media’s insulting headlines and reporting that frequently misleads voters, whether on Graham’s bill or the abortion issue in general. But regardless, the abortion issue (nor, hopefully, Donald Trump) is not going to save Democrats in November.

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  1. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    I was surprised that the Federalist podcast was supportive of Graham’s bill and see it as a way to expose Democrat’s extremism. I agree with those here who see it as counterproductive at this time.

    • #31
  2. David C. Broussard Coolidge
    David C. Broussard
    @Dbroussa

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    1. The Dobbs decision would seem to indicate that Congress should stay the hell out of it and let any restrictions be done at the state level. Jumping back into the issue at the federal level strikes me as stupid and it is profoundly un-conservative to try to usurp the states’ newly affirmed authority.

    I disagree with this interpretation.  Dobbs said that there is no right to abortion in the Constitution.  That leaves it open for the Legislatures to create laws to govern and regulate the topic.  That can be at the state level, and is because many states such as Texas) had trigger laws that came into effect if Roe/Casey were overturned.  It never precluded the Congress from passing a law regulating abortion, as long as that law is constitutional in its own right.  Since the commerce clause appears to be able to used for anything per Wikard I suspect that a law that regulates the commerce of abortion would be fine, and since it’s a health care procedure there is an entire other aspect that could be used to justify such a law.  Should it be done now?  I think not.  We haven’t had a single election since Dodd and the state legislatures haven’t passed anything post any election.  This should percolate for a while at the States until we identify some level of consensus before attempting something at a national level.

    • #32
  3. David C. Broussard Coolidge
    David C. Broussard
    @Dbroussa

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    I was surprised that the Federalist podcast was supportive of Graham’s bill and see it as a way to expose Democrat’s extremism. I agree with those here who see it as counterproductive at this time.

    I understand their logic, but it assumes that one the media will report the GOP side (they won’t), and two that the average voter has any clue about what a 15 week ban means to the number of abortions and how it compares to other developed countries (they don’t).

    • #33
  4. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):
    It never precluded the Congress from passing a law regulating abortion, as long as that law is constitutional in its own right.

    Congress could pass laws with respect to what medical procedures get funded but pre-empting criminal and regulatory authority is a stretch.  Withhold highway funding if a state limits abortion availability?

    The thrust of the Dobbs decision is that it is OK if the states have varied approaches to abortion.  To then turn around and claim that there needs to be some federally mandated uniformity is to miss that point–and maybe to guarantee that the issue will keep arising at the federal level when Dobbs made it possible for Congress to avoid/evade the issue entirely.

    So to enact a constitutionally dubious law counter to the common-sense federalism implicit in Dobbs and try to put abortion back under federal purview just to carry out a misguided political gesture is brain-dead.

    And the notion that this will highlight GOP moderation versus Democratic extremism would only be the case on some fictitious planet where the media was not one-sided.

    • #34
  5. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    What does it accomplish? It puts the focus back on the Democrats favorite Republican-bashing issue just when people were adjusting to the idea that you could kill your baby right up until crowning in California and Colorado, but you’d have to “choose” to kill before a heartbeat is detected in Ohio.

    It deflects from the kitchen table issues that were killing Democrats in the midterms (inflation, COVID bullying, perverts grooming kids and stealing their innocence in public schools, transgender activists replacing parental authority with “gender affirming care,”. . .) and refocuses voters on an issue practically affecting a small portion of the population.

    It’s time to ask: whose side is Lindsey Graham working for? What a fool.

    • #35
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    It’s time to ask: whose side is Lindsey Graham working for?

    His own.

    • #36
  7. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    If I were the Democrats,

    Narrator: He is.

    Yes.  He is.

    • #37
  8. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Percival (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    It’s time to ask: whose side is Lindsey Graham working for?

    His own.

    Yes, well his side looks a lot like the Democrats’ side.

    • #38
  9. AMD Texas Coolidge
    AMD Texas
    @DarinJohnson

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    I guess this is a silly point. But where does the constitution give the federal government the authority to make this law? It might make sense for Lindsey Graham to propose this law just so the Republicans can make the point that they do not have the authority to put it in.

    I believe this is the best point made. Abortion is not commerce and is up to the States, period.

    • #39
  10. Roderic Coolidge
    Roderic
    @rhfabian

    In addition to further inflaming things, the bill would accomplish nothing.  Congress most likely does not have the authority to regulate abortion, and so if passed into law it would be struck down.  

    • #40
  11. David C. Broussard Coolidge
    David C. Broussard
    @Dbroussa

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):
    It never precluded the Congress from passing a law regulating abortion, as long as that law is constitutional in its own right.

    Congress could pass laws with respect to what medical procedures get funded but pre-empting criminal and regulatory authority is a stretch. Withhold highway funding if a state limits abortion availability?

    The thrust of the Dobbs decision is that it is OK if the states have varied approaches to abortion. To then turn around and claim that there needs to be some federally mandated uniformity is to miss that point–and maybe to guarantee that the issue will keep arising at the federal level when Dobbs made it possible for Congress to avoid/evade the issue entirely.

    So to enact a constitutionally dubious law counter to the common-sense federalism implicit in Dobbs and try to put abortion back under federal purview just to carry out a misguided political gesture is brain-dead.

    And the notion that this will highlight GOP moderation versus Democratic extremism would only be the case on some fictitious planet where the media was not one-sided.

    I never said it was a good idea, but rather that Dobbs didn’t say that there cannot be a Federal solution to abortion.  Congress is free to pass a law and they can do so under Wikard using the Commerce clause, or the Health and Welfare clause that allows for regulation of health care at a national level (a la the ACA, which no one claimed wasn’t constitutional in that manner).

    • #41
  12. David C. Broussard Coolidge
    David C. Broussard
    @Dbroussa

    AMD Texas (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    I guess this is a silly point. But where does the constitution give the federal government the authority to make this law? It might make sense for Lindsey Graham to propose this law just so the Republicans can make the point that they do not have the authority to put it in.

    I believe this is the best point made. Abortion is not commerce and is up to the States, period.

    Does an abortion involve the spending of money for a good or service?  If so, then its commerce related, even if one went to a friend and they did it for free (or you did it yourself).  That is what Wikard v Filburn gave us when it comes to the extent of the commerce clause.  

    Further, Congress can regulate health issues under the General Welfare clause (I called it the Health and Welfare clause in #41 by mistake).  That is how the gov’t can run Medicare and Medicaid.  Thus, they can regulate almost anything that is health related…they shouldn’t, but they can.

    • #42
  13. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):

    AMD Texas (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    I guess this is a silly point. But where does the constitution give the federal government the authority to make this law? It might make sense for Lindsey Graham to propose this law just so the Republicans can make the point that they do not have the authority to put it in.

    I believe this is the best point made. Abortion is not commerce and is up to the States, period.

    Does an abortion involve the spending of money for a good or service? If so, then its commerce related, even if one went to a friend and they did it for free (or you did it yourself). That is what Wikard v Filburn gave us when it comes to the extent of the commerce clause.

    Further, Congress can regulate health issues under the General Welfare clause (I called it the Health and Welfare clause in #41 by mistake). That is how the gov’t can run Medicare and Medicaid. Thus, they can regulate almost anything that is health related…they shouldn’t, but they can.

    Silly me.  I always expect the constitution to mean what it says.  This other stuff is not constitutional no matter what the government says.  If they want that stuff in the constitution then there is a way to add it, or even remove it.

    • #43
  14. David C. Broussard Coolidge
    David C. Broussard
    @Dbroussa

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):

    AMD Texas (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    I guess this is a silly point. But where does the constitution give the federal government the authority to make this law? It might make sense for Lindsey Graham to propose this law just so the Republicans can make the point that they do not have the authority to put it in.

    I believe this is the best point made. Abortion is not commerce and is up to the States, period.

    Does an abortion involve the spending of money for a good or service? If so, then its commerce related, even if one went to a friend and they did it for free (or you did it yourself). That is what Wikard v Filburn gave us when it comes to the extent of the commerce clause.

    Further, Congress can regulate health issues under the General Welfare clause (I called it the Health and Welfare clause in #41 by mistake). That is how the gov’t can run Medicare and Medicaid. Thus, they can regulate almost anything that is health related…they shouldn’t, but they can.

    Silly me. I always expect the constitution to mean what it says. This other stuff is not constitutional no matter what the government says. If they want that stuff in the constitution then there is a way to add it, or even remove it.

    LOL, yeah, via SCOTUS decisions. Much easier than amendments after all. Of course, over tike, and with concerted efforts, those decisions can be overturned. Maybe if we focused on Wikard v Filburn being overturned like we did with Roe we could get to a better place, but somehow I doubt that will happen. Its as likely that Congress would vote to reduce their own power. 

    • #44
  15. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):

    AMD Texas (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    I guess this is a silly point. But where does the constitution give the federal government the authority to make this law? It might make sense for Lindsey Graham to propose this law just so the Republicans can make the point that they do not have the authority to put it in.

    I believe this is the best point made. Abortion is not commerce and is up to the States, period.

    Does an abortion involve the spending of money for a good or service? If so, then its commerce related, even if one went to a friend and they did it for free (or you did it yourself). That is what Wikard v Filburn gave us when it comes to the extent of the commerce clause.

    Further, Congress can regulate health issues under the General Welfare clause (I called it the Health and Welfare clause in #41 by mistake). That is how the gov’t can run Medicare and Medicaid. Thus, they can regulate almost anything that is health related…they shouldn’t, but they can.

    Silly me. I always expect the constitution to mean what it says. This other stuff is not constitutional no matter what the government says. If they want that stuff in the constitution then there is a way to add it, or even remove it.

    LOL, yeah, via SCOTUS decisions. Much easier than amendments after all. Of course, over tike, and with concerted efforts, those decisions can be overturned. Maybe if we focused on Wikard v Filburn being overturned like we did with Roe we could get to a better place, but somehow I doubt that will happen. Its as likely that Congress would vote to reduce their own power.

    That is the issue with our current system.   Put in unconstitutional stuff in about 10 minutes.  Takes 50 years and lots of money to get the unconstitutional stuff out if at all.  Sooner or later what we have is effectively a government that talks a bunch about the constitution but really does not follow it.   

    • #45
  16. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):

    AMD Texas (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    I guess this is a silly point. But where does the constitution give the federal government the authority to make this law? It might make sense for Lindsey Graham to propose this law just so the Republicans can make the point that they do not have the authority to put it in.

    I believe this is the best point made. Abortion is not commerce and is up to the States, period.

    Does an abortion involve the spending of money for a good or service? If so, then its commerce related, even if one went to a friend and they did it for free (or you did it yourself). That is what Wikard v Filburn gave us when it comes to the extent of the commerce clause.

    Further, Congress can regulate health issues under the General Welfare clause (I called it the Health and Welfare clause in #41 by mistake). That is how the gov’t can run Medicare and Medicaid. Thus, they can regulate almost anything that is health related…they shouldn’t, but they can.

    Silly me. I always expect the constitution to mean what it says. This other stuff is not constitutional no matter what the government says. If they want that stuff in the constitution then there is a way to add it, or even remove it.

    LOL, yeah, via SCOTUS decisions. Much easier than amendments after all. Of course, over tike, and with concerted efforts, those decisions can be overturned. Maybe if we focused on Wikard v Filburn being overturned like we did with Roe we could get to a better place, but somehow I doubt that will happen. Its as likely that Congress would vote to reduce their own power.

    Sadly Congress has been giving their power away to unelected bureaucrats. They are the most powerful branch but have become content letting agencies set policy through regulations. They’d rather let them take the hit when things go bad. After years of poor civics education, not enough voters know enough to be upset and to hold them accountable.

    Then we get the silly spectacle of Congressmen wishing for President Biden to use an executive order to accomplish something. If only there was a branch of government that created law that you could become a part of.

    • #46
  17. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):
    Maybe if we focused on Wikard v Filburn being overturned like we did with Roe we could get to a better place,

    Yes!  Problem is too many Republicans now favor a very expanded definition of interstate commerce. Some of those Republicans are right here on Ricochet. 

    but somehow I doubt that will happen. Its as likely that Congress would vote to reduce their own power. 

    Congress already did that when it outsourced the legislative function to administrative agencies.  The only way to get that power back now would be a constitutional amendment to outlaw or restrict constituent services. 

     

    • #47
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