Froma Harrop

Nice try, Lindsey Graham.

The senator from South Carolina has been reading the polls, clearly. After decades of railing against abortion and populating the U.S. Supreme Court with justices eager to ditch a right to an abortion, Republicans like him are discovering that the broader public never signed up for losing that option.

On the contrary, many voters are hopping mad they’ve lost a right they took for granted. People who might not have participated in the midterms are registering and circling Nov. 8 on their calendars.

The belief that women are the force that may scuttle Republican dreams come the midterms is widespread. But, actually, a Pew survey shows a majority of men, 58%, favor abortion rights in all or most cases.

A man of elastic beliefs, Graham has a “solution” that spins the head in light of what’s transpired. He’s proposed a new national law permitting abortion in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. Who does that please? Not the many states that oppose added restrictions. Not the 12 or so states that had virtually banned the procedure.

Gosh, haven’t Republicans been telling us for 50 years that decisions on abortion should be left to the states? And repeated with added force after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision struck down Roe v. Wade? And, of course, Graham himself over how many decades?

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His bill would add exceptions for rape and incest, which sounds reasonable to many but constitutes an insult to a true “pro-life position.” If the embryo or fetus is an innocent human being, as abortion foes hold, then it should not matter whether that being was conceived in love or through a violent crime.

What Roe did was give women the option of ending a pregnancy before fetal viability for any reason. What influenced their decisions was no business of politicians.

In any case, rape and incest account for a tiny fraction of unwanted pregnancies. Out in the real world, the desire for access to abortion centers on other, more common scenarios.

It’s about parents dealing with an 11th grader impregnated by a 12th grader. It covers the single woman who became pregnant by a guy she wants out of her life. It involves couples burdened with debt and job loss who feel unable to start a family at the moment — or are struggling to support the children they have.

The most restrictive bans on abortion tend to make an exception for saving the life of the mother. But then, who decides whether a mother’s life was truly endangered? Ordinarily, that person would be a doctor.

But politically inspired restrictions on the procedure have empowered politicians and other outsiders to threaten doctors making complicated decisions. And that has struck fear among maternal medicine professionals.

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Ohio’s near ban on abortion has created tension at the Cleveland Clinic, nationally known for its expertise in high-risk pregnancies. There are cases, for example, in which a non-viable twin must be removed to prevent irreparable harm to the mother and the other twin.

One in 10 pregnancies end in miscarriages. Doctors treating them to preserve the woman’s health routinely use common abortion drugs. Are they now open in many states to all kinds of crazy accusations?

The Cleveland Clinic also worries that doctors may avoid Ohio altogether rather than expose themselves to oversight by people not at all qualified to practice medicine.

With many Republicans pretending they never really opposed abortion, Graham apparently wants to help with his compromise. The post-Dobbs stance that states should decide these matters lasted about 15 minutes.

“I thought it’d be nice to introduce a bill to define who we are,” he said. Mission accomplished.

Froma Harrop is a syndicated columnist. Follow her on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be emailed at [email protected].


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