Sen. Graham’s 20-week abortion ban has already passed in more than a dozen states

November 7, 2013

Texas Sen. Wendy Davis leads a rally in support of abortion rights in Austin. (Credit: Erich Schlegel.)

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) wants to prohibit abortions beyond 20 weeks, extending a ban already in place in many states nationally.

“The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is the new front in protecting the rights of the unborn,” he said in a statement on Thursday, introducing his legislation, a companion measure to one the House passed in June. “I’m very proud to be leading this charge.”

But that kind of late-term ban is part of a broad and recent legislative trend at the state level. Thirteen states have already passed a ban at or before 20 weeks, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, though it was overturned in three. And others have imposed measures around a similar period in a woman’s pregnancy. The map below, from March, shows how those policies have been adopted across the nation. (Notably missing is Texas, which passed a 20-week ban this year that currently is caught up in a legal battle.)

Such a ban enjoys broad support across a number of demographics, according to a June National Journal poll. At least half of Republicans, independents, those aged 18 to 29, women and whites support such a ban. Opposition surpassed 50 percent among only two groups: Democrats and African Americans. Conservatives have embraced the 20-week ban in their fight over abortion, National Journal’s Shane Goldmacher reported at the time.

“For Republicans, the battle over abortions after the 20-week point is a welcome effort to move the abortion debate off the tough topics of rape and incest,” he wrote. “Democrats have proven adept in recent years at framing the abortion debate by focusing on those cases, successfully casting Republicans–especially Republican men–as out-of-touch extremists.”

But the ban has also had an impact on Democratic politics. A 20-week ban was a key part of the Texas law that helped to launch state Sen. Wendy Davis’s gubernatorial bid.

The states that have passed bans at or before 20 weeks are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas. The bans were overturned in Arkansas, Idaho and North Dakota, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.
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Niraj Chokshi · November 7, 2013