Everyone is very confused about why Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has taken on anti-abortion advocacy as his new hobby horse — and why now. While he’s irritated half his colleagues by proposing a 15-week federal abortion ban just weeks out from a midterm election when Republicans’ extreme positions on abortion could very likely spell doom for the party’s Senate majority, he also just managed to make the GOP’s stance on the issue even more confusing.
The senator from South Carolina has flipped his position on which entity he thinks should have the power to make rules about abortion rather dramatically in the last two months. As recently as the beginning of August, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) proclaimed during an interview on CNN that he has been “consistent” for some time about his belief that “states should decide the issue of abortion,” miming the states’ rights/federalism approach his party has pushed on the issue since Roe was first decided.
Even on the day Roe was overturned, June 24, Graham posted a tweet declaring: “Today’s decision by the Supreme Court is a long overdue constitutional correction allowing for elected officials in the states to decide issues of life.”
But as of this morning, that states’ rights thinking — which the Republican Party has used equally as it’s rationale for overturning Roe and as its shield to fend off backlash to Roe’s demise — is no more. During an interview on “Fox and Friends” Tuesday, Graham declared that abortion is “not a states’ rights issue, this is a human right issue.”
“At 15 weeks a baby sucks its thumb. At 20 weeks, you’re encouraged to sing to a child,” he said. “I am not going to sit on the sidelines in Washington, D.C. and tell the pro-life community Washington is closed for business.”
While the shift is shocking and may well make Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell more annoyed than he already was, there was another weird Graham line that caught my attention.
Throughout the segment, Graham kept returning to a similar idea: that his 15-week ban proposal was comparable to abortion restriction laws in some European nations (this isn’t true), while suggesting that some blue states widening abortion access in the wake of Roe are actually adopting a “Chinese abortion policy.”
China, all MAGA Republicans know, is Bad.
“I don’t want to be China, I don’t want to be North Korea when it comes to the unborn,” he said.
“I’m rejecting China,” he added again a few minutes later, “California is adopting — and Oregon — Chinese abortion policy.”
He made similar remarks a few days ago on “Fox News Sunday,” comparing Democrats’ push to protect abortion access to abortion laws supposedly in place in China and North Korea.
Pundits, journalists and even Graham’s own Republican colleagues have been scratching their heads, trying to make sense of why the senator is not only willing to die on this hill (Graham has never been a strong voice of the pro-life movement in general, but especially not as a campaign issue) but also dying on it during a time when he could drag the rest of the party down with him. But Graham’s a foreign policy guy and anti-China, sometimes-MAGA conservative. And as he struggles to explain his curious choice of legislation, the godless communists are a convenient punching bag.
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