When pressed on abortion rights during a tense CNN interview on Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) snapped at his host and resorted to oft-used Republican attacks against the media.
Appearing on State of the Union, Graham was asked by host Dana Bash about his friend Donald Trump’s position that access to abortion is a states’ issue after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade—a position incongruent with Graham’s desire for a federal abortion ban after 15 weeks.
“It’s a human rights issue,” Graham said, comparing the Democratic Party’s position to countries like North Korea and China. “What the Democratic Party proposes on abortion is barbaric. Abortion up to the moment of birth, taxpayer-funded, I think is barbaric. I welcome this debate. I think the Republican Party will be in good standing to oppose late-term abortion like most of the civilized world.”
However, Graham’s characterization of the Democratic position was misleading: Many Democratic-led states still have limits on abortion, including New York and California, once the pregnancy has reached the point of viability, generally considered to be 24 weeks and after. Roe v. Wade also allowed abortions up until the point of viability, a fact Bash reminded the senator of.
Graham did not take it well.
“No, quit covering for these guys,” the senator shouted. “No, no, no you’re media, you keep covering for these guys. They introduce legislation that allowed abortion on demand with taxpayer funded when you pay in for the taxpayer up at the bottom of birth. That was their position in Washington. That’s the law they want to pass and nobody in your business will talk about it. It’s barbaric.”
Graham was seemingly referencing the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill introduced by Senate Democrats to remove restrictions on abortion access. The bill failed in the Senate twice last year, but it was reintroduced last month.
While the bill does not restrict abortions after viability, it is extremely rare for such procedures to occur during the third trimester. The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that only 1.1 percent of abortions occur after 21 weeks into a pregnancy, with most abortions occurring less than six weeks into pregnancy.
Bash pushed back on Graham’s false claim, noting she has grilled Democrats on their abortion positions in the past.
“Senator, I’m not covering for anybody, you know that, and when I have Democrats on —and I’ve had Democrats—I have asked many, all of them about their position on where, where they believe this issue should be,” Bash said. “My question for you, sir, is about President Trump, who you support to be president again—is he right in saying that this issue should be a states’ issue?”
Graham demurred, saying any Republican “who has a snowball’s chance in hell” should oppose late-term abortions. “I am confident, over time, that that’s where our nominee will be,” he said.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who appeared after Graham, was asked whether she believed abortions should be legal up to the point of birth. She said that was not her position and blasted Graham.
“I think Senator Graham knows where the American people are on this,” she said. “They are with Democratic leaders, and the people in this country believe that the women of this country should be able to make their own decisions about their health care and not politicians, and they don’t want Ted Cruz in the waiting room.”