A Line in the Sand

A NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER: The Graham Bill is a welcome but modest piece of legislation that would protect some unborn babies and their mothers from the horrors of abortion.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, speaks during news conference to announce a new bill on abortion restrictions, on Capitol Hill September 13, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, speaks during news conference to announce a new bill on abortion restrictions, on Capitol Hill September 13, 2022 in Washington, DC. (photo: Drew Angerer / Getty)

In a perfect world, every unborn child would have a chance to live outside the womb. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, has at the very least made it possible for the American people to legislate this into reality.

The opening salvo in the national effort to protect the unborn is the Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children From Late-Term Abortions Act, recently introduced by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

The media firestorm and invective coming from radical pro-abortion activists and politicians was swift, fierce — and entirely predictable. Reporters and pundits called this a national abortion ban. If only.

What does the Graham Bill actually do? It prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of gestation, which is the point at which babies feel pain, and it provides for exceptions in the cases of rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother. What’s more, it would allow state laws to remain that go further to protect the unborn. Most data suggests that approximately 6% of abortions occur near or after 15 weeks, so the Graham Bill is a welcome but modest piece of legislation that would protect some unborn babies and their mothers from the horrors of abortion.

A national abortion ban this most certainly is not. The rhetoric of pro-abortion zealots and their media enablers have shamelessly obscured this fact and waged a relentless disinformation campaign to label this reasonable legislative proposal as somehow extreme and out of the mainstream. Nothing could be farther from the truth. 

If the Graham Bill were to become law, the United States would be in line with 47 of 50 European countries that prohibit abortion after 15 weeks, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute. In fact, recent polling has shown that more than 70% of Americans support laws that would protect the unborn after 15 weeks. A recent EWTN News/RealClear Opinion Research poll found that 87% of Catholics believe abortion should be restricted to various degrees. 

Despite the efforts from pro-abortion extremists to diminish the humanity and dignity of the unborn, it’s important to fully understand an unborn baby at 15 weeks. An unborn baby at 15 weeks has unique DNA, a heartbeat, brain function, major organs, lips, a nose, eyeballs, genitalia, fingernails, teeth, tastebuds and eyebrows. In addition, an unborn baby at 15 weeks responds to loud noises, touch and pain. Though not fully formed, it is indisputably a human life worthy of care and protection. According to the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), abortion after 15 weeks “unnecessarily inflicts severe pain on a pain-capable living human being and presents increased risks to the mother.”

Protecting the unborn and women is not extreme. What is extreme, however, is the so-called Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), which has been championed by abortion advocates as their plan to “codify Roe.” In fact, the WHPA is worse than Roe. Were it to pass, not only would it permit abortion nationwide up until the moment of birth, it would also wipe out every state law that protects a woman and her unborn baby. Say goodbye to parental-notification laws and a whole host of laws recognizing the humanity of the unborn.

While the WHPA has failed to gain the necessary votes in the U.S. Senate recently, should a few more abortion-supporting senators be elected and then vote to scrap the filibuster, a legislative tool that protects the rights of a minority of senators, we would almost certainly see passage of the WHPA. Where the Senate was once referred to as the cooling saucer that, for better or worse, restrains the rightward or leftward inclinations of the majoritarian House, a filibuster-less Senate could devolve into a rubber stamp for the most radical policies attacking life and efforts to protect it.

The post-Roe world has not only provided pro-life Americans the opportunity to try to protect life, an effort that was thwarted for five decades by our Supreme Court, but the Dobbs decision has become a clarifying opportunity for the nation to grapple with the reality of abortion.

“Safe, legal and rare” was once the mantra of those who supported a right to abortion. It has long since given way to such euphemisms as “reproductive justice” and “abortion care,” obscuring the true, evil nature of abortion. 

For years, abortion advocates and their media allies have falsely accused pro-lifers of not supporting women and their babies during pregnancy and after birth. Yet in the three months since Dobbs and five months since a leak indicated the Supreme Court would overturn Roe, nearly 100 churches, pregnancy resource centers (PRC) and the property of related organizations — entities that materially support pregnant women and their children — have been defaced, vandalized and firebombed explicitly in opposition to the pro-life mission. And thus far, the U.S. Department of Justice has shown no urgency in finding and prosecuting the perpetrators. The violence has continued unabated.

“Pro-choice” Americans would presumably like women to have the freedom to choose; and when that means they choose life, then they should have the kinds of resources they need, and that pregnancy resource centers provide, so that the mother and child can thrive during and after pregnancy. And yet the violence inflicted by groups like Jane’s Revenge and Ruth Sent Us tells a starkly different story. These extremists want to eliminate any choice that might include carrying an unexpected pregnancy to term.

Such extremism was on display when Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said pregnancy resource centers should be shut down and Vice President Kamala Harris praised and encouraged state attorneys general for “taking on rightly” efforts to investigate and intimidate these life-giving organizations. This undeniable hostility from pro-abortion activists and politicians to providing care for pregnant women is not pro-choice. It eliminates real choices.

What cannot be denied is that the Catholic Church and pro-life organizations have been on the front lines providing truly life-affirming care for women and their babies. They continue with this valiant care even amid violence and threats because the work of restoring the family, upholding the dignity of the unborn, and exalting motherhood is necessary and right. This is a life-defining moment for our nation. Catholics and all who defend the dignity of every human life from the first moments of conception to natural death must not back down in this cause. 

When Sen. Graham introduced his legislation, there was a lot of talk from Beltway elites that this bill was unhelpful, ill-timed and even perhaps unconstitutional. They were wrong. Graham should be praised for taking the lead on Capitol Hill in defense of life.

That’s why Archbishop William Lori, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ pro-life committee, sent a letter of gratitude and support to Sen. Graham and his co-sponsor in the House, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J. 

“Although we will never cease working for laws that protect human life from its beginning and supporting mothers in need, we think that this proposed legislation is a place to begin uniting Americans regardless of their views on abortion,” wrote Archbishop Lori as he encouraged all members of Congress to rise to the occasion to protect unborn human life on the federal level. Voters need to know that there are those in Congress who believe pain-capable unborn children deserve protection and who are willing to chart a course in law to make that happen. 

The Graham Bill is a line in the sand, and every politician who claims the pro-life label should not only sponsor the legislation but champion it in the midterm elections. Doing the right thing, which in this case is very popular with the American people, is not difficult. 

As states look at ways to protect women and unborn babies, the federal government and our elected officials have an obligation to do so as well. Anything less is an abdication of duty.

God bless you!