A bill to restrict abortion will come to the Senate floor for a procedural vote Monday night.The legislation, cosponsored by 46 Republicans, would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for instances of rape, incest, or critical health risks for the mother.
Why 20 weeks? Fetuses can feel pain and can survive a premature birth at five months of development.Several Senate Democrats have indicated they will join with Republicans to vote yes on the measure.South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham has introduced the bill in previous Congresses, garnering support on both sides of the aisle. In 2015, three Democrats voted in favor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act: Bob Casey, Joe Donnelly, and Joe Manchin, each now representing states Trump carried in 2016.Casey’s office told THE WEEKLY STANDARD that the Pennsylvania Democrat still supports Graham’s bill.
A spokesperson for Manchin echoed that sentiment, saying he, too, would back the measure on Monday. Donnelly will also vote for the bill.“As a pro-life Senator, I believe all life is sacred,” Donnelly said in a statement provided to TWS. “I am committed to protecting the sanctity of life, which is why I will vote to consider this legislation.”Yet even with some bipartisan support, Graham’s bill is unlikely to overcome the 60-vote threshold required to clear the cloture obstacle in the Senate.
Republicans have only a 51-member majority in the chamber, and John McCain won’t be present to cast a vote because he is in Arizona for cancer treatments. On top of that, Susan Collins has voted against Graham’s bill in the past, and she and Lisa Murkowski may oppose it this time.
*Republicans in the House have passed similar legislation repeatedly in recent months, but this will mark the first time the Senate will take up the bill since President Donald Trump took office.“It will be the first time, if we’re successful, to grant governments at the state and federal level, the ability to protect the unborn, apart from medical liability.
This is a very big deal,” Graham said at a pro-life event hosted by the Family Research Council.But most Senate Democrats oppose the measure, saying it would restrict women’s health options.“If women made up 51 percent of Congress, do you think we would still be fighting to protect a woman’s right to choose? Do you think that the Senate would be voting on a dangerous 20-week abortion ban? Absolutely not,” Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand tweeted on Saturday.
Yet recent polls indicate a majority of Americans support Graham’s bill. A 2017 Marist survey found 6 in 10 Americans favored the 20-week abortion ban. Notably, 49 percent of Democrats supported the bill. (Read John McCormack on how the Democratic party is grappling with a progressive push to oust pro-life Democrats here).Bringing the bill to the floor for a vote will put pressure on red-state Democrats to once again take a stance on the controversial issue ahead of November’s midterm elections.
“It’s just a matter of time ’til we get 60 votes,” Graham said on a press call to discuss the effort last week.*Correction: This article originally claimed that Lisa Murkowski voted against a 20-week abortion ban in 2015. She was not present for that vote.