On the heels of a federal judge's decision to re-instate Texas's questionably-constitutional abortion restrictions, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham will sponsor a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks, according to reports. The House of Representatives has already passed a similar bill, the awkwardly-named Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and Graham is expected to introduce the companion legislation as soon as next week. Now, even if the bill managed to pass the Senate — which would require some sort of supernatural intervention — President Obama would most certainly veto it, so the chances of it becoming law, at least for the next two years, are precisely zero.
So why is Graham introducing it? I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that it has something to do with the fact that he, like so many other Republican Senators, is facing a primary challenge from the right in his 2016 reelection fight. Graham needs to bolster his conservative bona fides in order to convince South Carolina Republicans that he’s sufficiently crazy to deserve reelection, and introducing a 20-week abortion ban is a great way to accomplish this.
But there could be long-term significance to this that extend beyond Graham’s electoral prospects. If other national Republicans join his effort, it would suggest that the GOP isn’t planning on shying away from social issues any time soon, despite its pledge at the beginning of the year to do so. In other words, this could be the beginning of a more concerted effort by the national GOP to push the boundaries of Roe v. Wade and force the Supreme Court to re-litigate a woman’s right to choose.
Graham’s bill itself is going to die a swift death in the Senate, but the GOP’s reaction to the legislation is certainly worth watching, as it could signify just how serious the party is in its desires to overturn Roe v. Wade.