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Senate GOP still eyeing new abortion restrictions

A federal 20-week ban will almost certainly fail to advance, but several Senate Republicans are pushing it this election season anyway.
Sen. Lindsey Graham talks to reporters after leaving a Senate Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol October 11, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Sen. Lindsey Graham talks to reporters after leaving a Senate Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol October 11, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Those who think congressional Republicans will steer clear of divisive social issues this election season need to think again.

Senate Republicans, led by Lindsey Graham, are planning to ramp up their advocacy for an abortion bill around the high-profile anniversary of a former abortion provider's murder conviction. The South Carolina Republican is organizing a group of his colleagues to speak in support of a bill that would federally ban abortions after more than 20 weeks of pregnancy, legislation that has the support of 41 Senate Republicans and has already passed the House. Graham is centering this legislative push on the May 13 anniversary of Kermit Gosnell's conviction for killing infants that were born alive.

In case anyone's forgotten, 20-week abortion bans would not prevent the Gosnells of the world; they'd arguably do the opposite, forcing desperate women into the hands of dubious "doctors."
What's more, because roughly 99% of abortions occur before 21 weeks, these later terminations often involve "rare, severe fetal abnormalities and real threats to a woman's health." It's why the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is so strongly against these conservative proposals.
As for why Lindsey Graham is investing so much effort right now, only the senator knows for sure, though my msnbc colleague Irin Carmon explained this morning that one of Graham's primary challengers is running an ad boasting about having been arrested -- several times -- for having blocked access to abortion clinics.
It's against this backdrop that the South Carolina senator is taking the lead.
As for whether Graham's bill would actually pass, the odds are against it.
The proposal has zero Democratic co-sponsors, and a handful of Republicans haven't signed on, either. Since it would probably need 60 votes to advance, the bill's prospects are poor. And in the unlikely event it somehow cleared Capitol Hill, President Obama would almost certainly veto it.
So why bother? Because it's an election year and some Republicans are eager to demonstrate their far-right bona fides to the GOP base.
Away from Capitol Hill, meanwhile, Tara Culp-Ressler added that opponents of reproductive rights are having some success in a handful of state legislatures: "Just last month, Mississippi became the latest state to approve this blatantly unconstitutional abortion restriction. And West Virginia recently became the first Democratic-controlled state to pass a 20-week ban. Although the governor ended up vetoing it, that bill did win the support of U.S. Sen Joe Manchin (D-WV) — whom abortion opponents have been pressuring to become the first pro-life Democratic sponsor to Graham's national legislation."
Correction: Quoting another source, this report originally said the 20-week ban was the first anti-abortion bill Graham had sponsored in the Senate. It turns out, that's incorrect, and the above text has been edited accordingly.