Lindsey Graham's View On Abortion Is Pretty Clear, But He Could Prove To Go More Moderate In This Election

The latest Republican to announce his presidential bid, Lindsey Graham, wants you to think he's a moderate, and in fact, in many respects he is. He supports a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and he has worked willingly with Democrats on climate change legislation while in Congress. When it comes to Lindsey Graham's view on abortion, though, he remains steadfast — and predictably so: He's pro-life.

In 2013, Graham introduced a bill into the Senate known as the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which aimed to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of rape, incest, and life-threatening conditions. In advocating for the bill's passage, Graham laid out his views on abortion clearly, saying:

I came into the political arena pro-life, and I will leave pro-life.

Statements like that seem to draw a line in the sand — a line that Graham is comfortable using to his advantage. When the bill was proposed, some accused Graham of using the anti-abortion stance to appeal to conservative voters in his constituency of South Carolina. (Why else would he have introduced an anti-abortion bill into the Democratic-controlled Senate?) In this election, however, standing on the wrong side of the line could disrupt a candidate's plans for success. For the first time since 2008, more Americans have identified as pro-choice than pro-life, according to a new Gallup poll.

Since announcing his bid for the presidency Monday, Graham seems to be more focused on his experience with national security than anything else. (He's an Air Force vet who's "ready to be Commander-in-Chief on day one," according to his campaign website.) Still, he vows to champion socially conservative values, including "strong families" and the "sanctity of life." He's demonstrated an ability to compromise elsewhere, but could he compromise on those socially conservative issues (aka abortion)? It seems possible, but unclear. In January, his anti-abortion bill failed to pass a vote, and Graham told reporters he acknowledged some weaknesses in the legislation he planned to address before pursuing it further.

Somebody in the House put a provision in there, if you didn't report the rape to law enforcement, then it's not going to be considered a legitimate rape. Well, that's ridiculous. I've been, you know, in criminal law all my life, and the vast majority of women who are raped don't report it, so we're not going to go down that road.
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Ultimately, Graham pledges to represent voters of both parties, or neither party, which is an interesting strategy for a candidate heading into a Republican primary. Nonetheless, abortion could be one issue where he is less willing to bend.

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