The Senate's Pointless War Over Abortion Bills

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Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced his "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" last week, which would ban abortions after the 20-week mark. It will never pass. Not to be outdone, a group of Democratic senators and congressmen, led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, will introduce the "Women's Health Protection Act" today, which also will probably never become law. 

Blumenthal's measure, which has the support of Sens. Barbara Boxer and Tammy Baldwin, would "effectively pre-empt state laws requiring medically unnecessary tests before receiving reproductive health services, including the morning-after pill and abortions." It's a direct attack on Republican-controlled statehouses' efforts to restrict abortion access. “These [state] laws should be challenged in court because they are largely unconstitutional," Blumenthal told Roll Call. "But some measure of certainty and clarity are required to — to ban these regulations and laws so that women are not chilled and deterred in their very personal decisions." 

While Democrats in the Senate and House support Blumenthal's proposal, the likelihood of Speaker John Boehner ever bringing it to the House floor for a vote is zero.

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But Blumenthal gets at what these bills are about — elections. "As the election approaches, I think the voters are going to want to know where legislators stand on these issues," he continued. "The Women’s Health Protection Act, guaranteeing reproductive rights, hopefully will attract increasing support."

Similarly, Graham's fetal pain bill will never see the Senate floor. Democratic Sen. Patty Murray made that clear last week: "This extreme, unconstitutional abortion ban is an absolute non-starter. It’s going nowhere in the Senate and Republicans know it."

That won't stop Graham from talking about it as both parties gear up for 2014. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.