Neil W. McCabe, National Political Correspondent
UPDATED 9:22 AM PT –Thursday, September 22, 2022
WASHINGTON The senior senator from South Carolina defended his bill that would ban all abortions after weeks of pregnancy in an exclusive sit-down interview with OAN’s Washington Bureau Chief John Hines, even as Republican leaders are begging him to pull the bill.
“If Republicans will push back and not run for the hills, we’ll do just fine,” said Sen. Lindsay O. Graham (R.-S.C.), whom Sept. 13 filed his “Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act.”
In May, Senate Minority Leader A. Mitchell “Mitch” McConnell (R.-Ky.) told USAToday that if the Supreme Court used its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that created a federal right to abortion, it was possible that Republicans would propose a national abortion ban.
After the justices’ June 24 Dobbs decision reversed Roe, McConnell has been more circumspect. He and his leadership team, which includes Minority Whip John R. Thune (R.-S.D.) and Assistant Minority Leader John Cornyn (R.-Texas), have repeatedly dismissed talk of a national ban, preferring to allow the states to work out their own rules.
Graham said he could not stand back and do nothing.
“What world do you wanna live in? Do you want to be like China and North Korea in the United States?” he asked. “Or do you wanna be in the civilized world?”
Republicans can do the right thing and win, he said.
“I hope Republicans will look the camera in the eye and say: ‘If I go to Washington, I will never vote to use your taxpayer dollars to allow baby to be aborted up to the moment of birth. That’s not who we are as a nation–that’s out of sync with the civilized world–hold them accountable for the most extreme position on abortion.”
Graham said it if the American people understood the reality of the Democrats’ abortion agenda, they would be shocked.
“I think the Democratic Party has made a serious mistake,” he said.
“The reason they’re coming after me is ‘cuz I’m coming after them,” he said.
“Thank God for OAN and other outlets, who allow me to talk,” the retired Air Force Reserve colonel said. “In the liberal media world, abortion is something that Republicans should run away from and being pro-life is a political loser in my world.”
Graham said he pegged the limit at 15 weeks because that is the point children in the womb become pain capable, and it is the time limit imposed in most European nations that allow abortion.
Current American abortion restrictions are inhumane, he said.
“There are no rights attached to this child. I find that to be extreme, to be cruel,” he said.
The senator said it is accepted medical practice to administer anesthesia whenever doctors operate on a baby in the womb after 15 weeks.
“Why would you provide anesthesia to an unborn child? If they can’t feel pain, it is a standard medical practice at 15 weeks to provide anesthesia to the unborn child if you’re trying to repair some damage to save its life,” the senator said.
What about what the unborn child experiences when it is aborted, he said. “Can you imagine what it’s like for that child to be dismembered?”
“What am I doing?” he asked. “At 15 weeks, I’m drawing a line nationally–you can do anything below 15 weeks at the state level, but 47 of 50 European nations outlaw or stop abortion on demand at 14 weeks.”
Graham said his bill is actually less stringent than the European standard.
“I’m one week beyond them with exceptions, for rape and incest and life of the mother,” he said.
It is the Democrats who are being extreme by opposing any time limit, the senator said.
“Taxpayer-funded abortion, no restrictions up until the moment of birth,” he said.
“What they don’t want the public to know is that their abortion position is the most extreme in history,” he said. “It’s the Democratic party trying to impose on the nation an abortion standard like China and North Korea.”
Ten Senate Democrats, led by Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D.-N.Y.) and Sen. Patricia L. Murray (D.-Wash.), the chairwoman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, held a Sept. 15 press conference to blast the Graham bill.
Schumer said Americans support abortion rights.
“Republicans are twisting themselves into pretzels to explain their position on abortion because they know the American people overwhelmingly side with a woman’s right to choose,” Schumer said.
“The Republican abortion ban introduced this week shows the stark contrast between Democrats who are focused on creating jobs, lowering costs, and bringing our country together, and MAGA Republicans who are pushing a radical, extremist agenda,” he said.
“Several months ago, we had a vote on the floor of the United States Senate authored by Senator Schumer that would create a national policy,” he said. “It would preempt every law at the state level, allowing abortion on demand funded by the taxpayer up to the moment of birth.”
The Democrats are using his abortion bill to distract voters from the damage they have done to the country and its reputation, he said.
“I hope they keep talking about this,” Graham said.
“Listen, crime and inflation are issues that are very important, a broken border, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, but the Democrats believe they’re gonna win this election on the abortion issue,” he said.
“To my Republican colleagues, if you do not tell the public about the extreme views of the Democrats, Schumer and others, you’re missing an opportunity.”