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GOP Senators Evade Questions on Federal Abortion Ban


Republican senators are refusing to commit to seeking abortion restrictions or bans should the GOP regain control of Congress in the midterms.

The issue has returned to the forefront after a leaked opinion draft – later confirmed by Chief Justice John Roberts — that suggested the Supreme Court was poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide.

The draft would leave abortion laws to individual states or the federal government should it act on a national law.

GOP lawmakers understand the risk of a political backlash if Roe v. Wade is overturned, and if they enact federal restrictions instead of leaving the issue to each state.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was asked whether he supported a federal abortion ban.

“Let’s see how this shakes out,” Graham said, The Hill reported.

Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he did not want to “speculate” about what might happen before the Supreme Court decision in a Mississippi case is released.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said, “I wouldn’t say absolutely no [to a federal ban]. But I think letting the states figure it out is maybe the best way to go.”

Other Republican senators, also saying the issue should be left up to the states, added they opposed a federal abortion ban, The Hill reported.

“Actually, I don’t think a federal law would be constitutional,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said after offering a “no” when asked whether he supported a federal abortion ban.

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., also answered “no” after being asked whether she backed a federal ban.

Some GOP senators, though, say they supported federal abortion legislation.

“There’s not the votes on a federal abortion ban at this point, but I think every child’s valuable, and I think we will get there eventually,” said Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., who added he “absolutely” supports a federal ban on abortion.

Even if Republicans win back the Senate, they would need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.

Jennifer Popik, director of federal legislation at National Right to Life, told The Hill that Republican lawmakers would have options, such as bans on abortion at 15 weeks, and a “heartbeat” bill, which would ban abortions around six weeks.

“Clearly the states will play a very important role in that but there will also be a federal role as well,” Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., said, The Hill reported.

Asked to give details about how many weeks into pregnancy any ban would begin, Daines said: “That will all be part of what happens next.”

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