Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and CNN’s Dana Bash found themselves in a heated debate Sunday after Bash asked whether abortion — and, in particular, late-term abortion — should be a state or federal issue.
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Bash started her line of questioning by noting former President Donald Trump recently said the Supreme Court got it right when the justices overturned Roe v. Wade and ruled abortion is a state issue.
She then juxtaposed Trump’s comments against former Vice President Mike Pence, who said he disagreed with Trump and also sees opportunities for the federal government to further protect life.
“We’ve been given a new beginning for life in this country,” Pence said. “I think we have an opportunity to advance the sanctity of life, move it ever closer to the center of American law.”
Bash asked who was right, and Graham responded by noting he has supported limiting late-term abortions since 2015.
“I had a bill to limit abortions at 20 weeks with exceptions for rape, incest, life of the mother,” the senator said. “Seventy percent of Americans support limiting abortion when the unborn child can feel pain.”
When Bash continued to press on whether it’s a state or federal issue, Graham responded by stating it’s a “human rights issue.”
“Does it really matter where you’re conceived? At 15 weeks, you have a developed heart and lungs and to dismember a child at 15 weeks is a painful experience; it’s barbaric,” he said. “Only North Korea and China allow abortion on demand up to the moment of birth except the Democratic Party.”
That’s when Bash stepped in to push back, stating, “For the record, Roe went up to viability.”
The CNN host was referencing the fact that Roe implored states to allow abortion up until viability. However, she declined to note at least seven states had no limits on abortion before Roe, permitting it past viability; under Roe, states could allow abortion past viability.
Graham, clearly unimpressed with Bash’s comments, jumped in and accused her of covering for Democrats.
“No, no! Quit covering for these guys,” he said. “Your media — you keep covering for these guys.”
Graham said Democrats wanted to pass taxpayer abortion on demand up through birth.
“That’s the law they want to pass, and no one in your business will talk about it,” he said, to which Bash responded she’s not covering for anyone.
But Graham, undaunted, told her to “just report the facts.”
It’s unclear which law he was referencing, though versions of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would restore abortion rights nationwide, have included complex language about abortions after viability.
A 2022 version of the bill reads, in part:
In addition, governments may not (1) require patients to make medically unnecessary in-person visits before receiving abortion services or disclose their reasons for obtaining such services, or (2) prohibit abortion services before fetal viability or after fetal viability when a provider determines the pregnancy risks the patient’s life or health.
And a 2023 version of the bill reads:
After fetal viability, governments may not restrict providers from performing abortions when necessary to protect a patient’s life and health. The same provisions that apply to abortions before viability also apply to necessary abortions after viability. Additionally, states may authorize post-viability abortions in circumstances beyond those that the bill considers necessary.
While some are accusing Graham of lying about viability, the “life or health” language seems vague, and, thus, it’s clear there are openings for abortion beyond viability, as Graham alluded.
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