Health

Voters Are Divided on Lindsey Graham’s 15-Week Abortion Ban

Men are more likely than women to back the South Carolina senator’s proposal

Image of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introducing his 15-week abortion ban.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) speaks during a Sept. 13 news conference on his 15-week abortion ban. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The introduction of Sen. Lindsey Graham’s bill last week to ban doctors across the country from performing abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy seemingly blindsided the South Carolina Republican’s colleagues, with the GOP already playing defense on the issue following a string of post-Roe v. Wade special election wins for Democrats.

A new Morning Consult/Politico survey shows why Graham’s gambit is causing heartburn in the GOP: It’s a divisive issue with the general electorate, and women and independents are more likely to oppose than support the policy.

Voters Are Split on Lindsey Graham’s Proposed 15-Week Abortion Ban

Respondents were asked if they would support or oppose congressional passage of a 15-week nationwide abortion ban, with exceptions in cases of rape, incest and when the mother’s life is at risk

Stacked bar chart of support for Sen. Graham's 15-week abortion ban, showing men are more likely to support the bill, and women are more likely to oppose it.

Survey conducted Sept. 16-18, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,005 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

Proposed 15-week abortion ban divides voters

  • Without mentioning Graham’s name, the survey asked voters whether they would support or oppose passage of a 15-week abortion bill by Congress that includes exceptions in the cases of rape, incest and danger to the mother’s life. The proposed nationwide ban was backed by 51% of voters and opposed by 49%.
  • Men are 10 percentage points more likely to support the bill than oppose it, while women are 4 points more likely to be against the legislation than in favor of it.
  • Most Republican voters support the 15-week ban, while a slightly smaller share of Democrats oppose it. Independents are 10 points more likely to oppose than support the legislation.
Plurality of Voters Think Abortion Policy Should Be Left to the States

Respondents were asked if they think U.S. abortion policy should be decided by …

Stacked bar chart showing who respondents think should be responsible for abortion policy, the federal government or state governments. A plurality of voters think abortion policy should be left to the states.

Survey conducted Sept. 16-18, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,005 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points. “Don’t know/No opinion” responses are not shown.

Voters narrowly say abortion policy should fall to states

  • Three months before Graham introduced his nationwide abortion ban, he said in a Fox News interview that the issue should be left to the states, noting that “all of us in the conservative world have believed that there’s nothing in the Constitution giving the federal government the right to regulate abortion.”
  • The Morning Consult/Politico survey found that voters overall are more likely to agree with Graham’s June opinion rather than his September stance: 42% believe U.S. abortion policy should be decided by state governments, compared with 35% who think it should be under the federal government’s purview.
  • A majority of GOP voters (58%) think state governments should be charged with handling U.S. abortion policy. Just under half of Democrats believe abortion policy should be managed at the federal level.

Background on Graham’s proposed abortion ban

Despite reactions from many of his fellow GOP lawmakers that could charitably be described as lukewarm, Graham defended his position and said suggestions that he’s “new to the game opposing late term abortion is ridiculous.”

The attempt to characterize an abortion after 15 weeks as “late term” is strongly disputed by medical professionals. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has written that the phrase “late-term abortion” has “no clinical or medical significance,” while fetal viability is thought to be as early as 24 weeks, though it could be later depending on many factors.

Graham’s legislation has no chance to move forward in the current Congress. If Republicans win the House and Senate in November’s midterm elections, however, Graham said he “can assure” the public that there will be a vote on the bill.

The latest Morning Consult/Politico survey was conducted Sept. 16-18, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,005 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Morning Consult