How Lindsey Graham’s 15-week abortion ban compares to other countries’ laws
Some Republicans are perplexed by the timing of the South Carolina senator’s abortion bill. But its substance is not as extreme as some abortion-rights supporters think
South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham’s introduction of a bill banning abortion nationwide after 15 weeks of gestation has even some members of his party wincing.
As a report in Politico pointed out, many Republicans were taken aback by the timing, given that the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade seems to have helped Democrats more than the GOP as the parties head into the midterms. Some GOP candidates are even starting to walk back their previous support of abortion bans, amid reports of women registering to vote in large numbers.
Some Republican candidates have already announced that they don’t support Graham’s bill; others are choosing their words carefully, like Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who said: “I would keep an open mind on this but my preference would be for those decisions to be made on a state-by-state basis.”
Their reluctance to align themselves with Graham, however, likely stems from the political ramifications — Democrats are already trying to label this a “nationwide abortion ban” — rather than from concerns about the substance of the bill itself, which is not as extreme as it may seem, at least compared with many European countries.
In fact, America’s religiosity, though waning, stands in contrast to the liberal laws on abortion that were in place before the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision sent abortion decision-making back to the states.
As The New York Times reported before the Dobbs decision was released, “Few countries allow abortion without restriction until fetal viability, the cutoff set by Roe v. Wade half a century ago — currently around 23 weeks, because of medical advances.”
Pre-Dobbs, that made the U.S. “just one of just over a dozen countries that allow abortions for any reason beyond 15 weeks of pregnancy” — a fact that many people on Twitter were quick to bring up.
Here are some facts:— Greg Price (@greg_price11) September 13, 2022
America is one of only 7 countries in the world that allow elective abortions after 20 weeks.
75% of all world nations, including 27 EU countries, do not permit them past 12 weeks.
Only 3 of 42 European countries permit them past 15 weeks.
The Catholic News Agency has pointed out that it’s difficult to compare abortion laws across the world, given that each country has different exceptions to its laws. (Graham’s bill has three; it would ban abortions over 15 weeks gestation except in cases of rape, incest and threat to the health of the mother.)
But the news agency noted that both The Washington Post and PolitFact in recent years have confirmed that only six other countries allowed elective abortions after 20 weeks: North Korea, China, Vietnam, Canada, Singapore, and the Netherlands.
And there are very few areas in which Americans are aspiring to be more like North Korea.
I don't know why Democrats are freaking out over Republicans introducing a bill to ban abortions after 15 weeks.— Michael Seifert (@realmichaelseif) September 13, 2022
You would think they'd want to make America more like Denmark and Norway and less like North Korea and China.
Abortion in China is “cheap, government-funded, and common,” Emily Matchar wrote for The Atlantic, in her exploration of how other countries’ abortion laws differ from those in the United States.
The differences aren’t just in the length of gestation. Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, for example, are among countries with mandated waiting periods before ending a pregnancy. In some countries, women have to prove financial hardship or already have multiple children. And in some countries, of course, abortion is outlawed altogether, including Malta, Honduras, Nicaragua and Madagascar.
But the most common gestational cutoff around the world is 12 weeks, Axios reported, making Graham’s bill seem not quite as extreme as abortion-rights supporters are saying.
And while states are still grappling with what their laws will be in the wake of Dobbs, Graham’s proposal would affect only a small percentage of women seeking abortions. Prior to Dobbs, according to The New York Times, “only about 8 percent of abortions happen after 13 weeks.”