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GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – More Republicans are adopting the idea put forward Wednesday by Sen. Lindsey Graham of a 15-week national abortion ban – including a few from North Carolina.

The idea of the bill was introduced by Graham (R-South Carolina) as a way for Republicans to address a key issue in this November’s elections. He proposed limiting all abortions after 15 weeks except in some rare circumstances.

Since the fall of Roe v. Wade in a Supreme Court ruling in June – which said the matter should be decided by states and voters – abortion rights increasingly have appeared to be a motivating factor for voters, most of whom support access to abortion to some extent. Republicans for years campaigned on the idea of changing the makeup of courts to ensure that Roe would be reversed. Now that has been accomplished by Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speak during a news conference to discuss the introduction of the Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

At least 12 states have banned most abortions – some changing laws immediately after SCOTUS ruled – and two have limits at about six weeks of pregnancy, which can be before some women might even know they were pregnant. A federal court stay on North Carolina’s ban after 20 weeks has been lifted.

So joining Graham’s effort were not only his Senate colleague Marco Rubio (R-Florida) but also the Republican from North Carolina who wants a seat in the Senate, Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance).

Budd’s name is listed as an original co-sponsor to House Resolution 8814, which is titled as an amendment to the U.S. code “to protect pain-capable unborn children, and for other purposes.” Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) introduced that companion to Graham’s bill on Wednesday, too.

Budd is just one of nearly 100 Republicans listed as co-sponsors. Among them are three running to represent parts of the Piedmont Triad, 5th District Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk), 8th District Rep. Richard Hudson (R-Moore County) and 9th District Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte).

Budd has a firm record for opposing all abortions and just last week had said he was glad that the abortion rights issue was back with the states after having been a court decision since 1973.

“The Democrats’ position on abortion – for everyone at any stage – is out of touch with North Carolinians,” Budd said during a campaign stop in Greensboro last Friday. Now that issue “has moved from a decision by nine people in 1973 [the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade] to everyone through state legislatures.”

In a follow-up call about Budd’s position, Jillian Riley, the North Carolina director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood, pointed out that abortions after the stipulation of Roe v. Wade – which is 24 to 28 weeks, depending on the person – “have never been legal in our country.

“Abortion up to birth is flat-out untrue,” Riley said. “That’s not how medical science works. … The vast majority of abortions occur early in pregnancy. When they do occur later, it is when the patient’s health is at risk or the fetus is not viable.”

Budd is locked in a very close race with Democrat Cheri Beasley, former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. Libertarian Shannon Bray, a Department of Defense employee, and Green Party candidate Matthew Hoh, recently certified on the ballot, also are in the race to replace Republican Richard Burr of Winston-Salem, who is retiring after three terms.

Said Samantha Cotten, Budd’s communications director, in an email to WGHP: “Cheri Beasley thinks America is a better place if a healthy baby can be aborted one minute before a full-term birth, a position wildly out-of-step with North Carolinians. We’ve always been transparent that Ted is pro-life and he has previously supported similar pain-capable legislation.”

She didn’t say why Budd changed from his states-rights position to support the law proposed by Graham, but Graham had made a similar change in position.

Budd’s views on abortion

NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 18: Republican Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina speaks on the last day of the annual "Road To Majority Policy Conference" held by the Faith & Freedom Coalition at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center June 18, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. Former President Donald Trump's appearance on the first day of the conference came on the heels of the third public hearing by the House committee investigating the attack on our U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Seth Herald/Getty Images)
Republican Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina (Photo by Seth Herald/Getty Images)

“Ted believes every life is precious and every person is made in God’s image. Science tells us that each of us is unique from conception, and we all have an unalienable constitutional right to life and protection under the law. He’s proud of his 100% rating from National Right to Life and Susan B. Anthony List, because he is a conscience-driven advocate for the unborn.

Although Budd also is one of several Republicans nationally who changed the presence of their pro-life positions on their campaign websites, his issues page is clear about his position and never has wavered:

“Right now, America is tragically one of only seven countries in the world where elective, late-term abortion is legal after 5 months. To change that, Ted sponsored legislation that bans the gruesome procedure used in born-alive abortions and voted for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which restricts late-term abortion for unborn children who can feel excruciating pain.”

He promises to oppose activist judges, mail-order abortions and to defend Planned Parenthood.

Tillis: Focus on other issues

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, Pool)

Graham’s bill was hardly popular with all Republicans, including Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who said that, “I think that most members of my conference prefer that this be dealt with at the state level.”

Lauren Scott, a spokesperson for Sen. Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), said in a statement emailed to WGHP that “Senator Tillis hasn’t had a chance to review the legislation, but he believes we need to focus on combatting inflation which is getting worse because of President Biden’s out of control spending. Senator Graham’s bill has no chance of passing the current Congress so the decision will continue to be left to individual states.”

There has been no published comment from outgoing NC Senator Richard Burr.

Democrats respond

US Senate candidate profile: Cheri Beasley
US Senate candidate Cheri Beasley (WGHP FILE)

Democrats have suggested the idea of codifying – the legal term for what Graham proposed – access to abortion rights. Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) is among members of the House who passed a bill to do just that. The Senate, with its 1-vote margin of Democratic control, won’t take it up for now. Beasley has supported that effort as well, which would allow abortions at any time.


North Carolina News

Democrats uniformly attacked Graham’s ideas, including Beasley.

“Congressman Budd will stop at nothing to put himself between women and doctors,” Beasley said in a statement released by her campaign. “His national abortion ban will not only take away our freedom – it will cost North Carolina women their lives, and he owes an explanation to every woman whose life he has now put at risk.”

Said North Carolina Democratic Party Chair Bobbie Richardson: “The stakes of this election couldn’t be more clear. Ted Budd will stand with Republicans to pass a national abortion ban and take away North Carolinians’ freedom, while Cheri Beasley will protect our freedoms and ensure people are able to make their own medical decisions.”