Utah Sen. Mike Lee opposes a bill sponsored by fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham that would ban abortions after 15 weeks nationwide, saying it is not a federal issue.

Calling the South Carolina senator a “dear friend” for whom he has “immense respect,” Lee explained on “Fox News Sunday” why he can’t sign on to the legislation.

“We’ve been saying for nearly 50 years that this is not a federal issue. It should be primarily a state issue except in so far as we’re dealing with federal funding and things that are distinctively part of Congress’ role. So, now that Roe has been overturned correctly, we can’t suddenly make it a federal issue,” Lee told host Shannon Bream.

“Moreover, the best way to save the most babies is to allow states, each state to protect babies in the way they deem most appropriate for their state.”

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Graham introduced the national ban on abortions in June, which put some of his Republican colleagues in a difficult spot as Democrats campaign on abortion rights following the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

The bill prohibits doctors from performing abortions after 15 weeks gestation, except in situations involving rape, incest or risks to the life and physical health of the mother. It leaves more restrictive state laws in place.

Lee’s opponent in the upcoming midterm election, independent Evan McMullin, said earlier this year he would vote against a national abortion ban if elected.

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On Monday, McMullin said in response to a question about his position on Graham’s bill that he would take a good look at any legislation that has a chance of passing in the Senate.

“But most bills on this issue, including Sen. Graham’s bill, are messaging ploys designed to divide Americans,” he said in a statement. “Right now, the never-ending tug-of-war over abortion laws is tearing the country apart. We’ll never move forward if we have leaders exploiting this issue to raise more money and hold onto power.”

McMullin and Lee sparred over abortion during their one and only debate last week.

Lee has long advocated for overturning the 1973 landmark opinion guaranteeing a woman’s right to an abortion, calling it “legal fiction.” He said the Supreme Court correctly returned the decision on abortion law to the states, where it should remain except for a handful of exceptions dealing with federal funding.

McMullin, who describes himself as pro-life, favored overturning Roe v. Wade during his independent run for president in 2016. In an interview on MSNBC in May shortly after a draft opinion overturning Roe was leaked, McMullin said he didn’t think that was the way forward on the issue.

Since the decision, McMullin said he wants to find a constructive path on the issue. He reiterated that sentiment Monday.

“We can reduce the number of abortions in America while ensuring sensible exceptions exist,” he said.

McMullin favors making contraception more accessible, doing more to support women, children and families, and ensuring children are taught the right values. Most Americans, he said, can agree on those steps.

“It’s a more constructive way forward if we’re willing to reject the extremes,” he said.

Utah prohibits elective abortions, with few exceptions including if the mother’s life is at risk, if the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest or if two physicians who practice “maternal-fetal medicine” both determine that the fetus has a severe defect. A state judge put the law on hold pending the outcome of a lawsuit by Planned Parenthood of Utah.

In the Fox News interview, Lee, a former Supreme Court clerk, also said he is troubled that the high court has yet to provide any answers about how the draft opinion was leaked. Chief Justice John Roberts launched an investigation into the leak in May.

“It baffles me as to why they haven’t figured this out,” Lee said.

“I know some things are more difficult to investigate than others. I am surprised and it worries me, quite frankly, that we’ve gone this long and that suggests we may not get an answer.”