“Sabotage”: Right-Wing Media Lashes Out at Lindsey Graham for Proposing Abortion Ban Before Midterms
Senator Lindsey Graham provided Democrats with free ammunition this week by introducing a bill that would federally ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. “If we take back the House and Senate, I can assure you we’ll have a vote,” Graham said of the legislation, sparking outrage from Democrats, who have pointed to the demise of Roe as a harbinger of what’s to come if the GOP retakes Congress in the midterms. But for their part, right-wing commentators weren’t happy either. And with abortion now on the ballot in November, many suggested that the senator’s bewildering bill might be a deliberate attempt to sabotage the party’s chances.
Interviewing Graham in a Wednesday night segment on Fox News, host Jesse Watters demanded that he explain the exceptionally poor timing of the bill to the “very angry” Republicans who view it as detrimental to the GOP. But Graham refused to back down, insisting to Watters that there is “no bad time to defend the unborn,” even in the homestretch of a midterm cycle that has seen support for Democrats steadily grow since the reversal of Roe.
While agreeing with Graham’s antiabortion talking points, Watters insisted that he could have introduced the bill any other day. “You’ve got to talk tactics, senator. It’s terrible timing, terrible tactics,” the host continued. “We could’ve shoved this down their throat on the day the Americans got hammered with this inflation number and the market crashing, and now all the media and the Democrats are talking about ‘federal abortion ban, federal abortion ban.’”
Indeed, Democrats have already incorporated Graham’s bill into their midterm messaging. “Very simple: If you want to protect the right to choose, and you want to protect a woman’s right to health care, vote for more Democratic senators,” Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday. “You want to have a nationwide abortion ban? Vote for MAGA Republicans.” Likewise, the Democratic National Committee’s war room cited the bill in a warning to voters: “There you have it—if Republicans take control, they will vote to pass a national abortion ban. Take them at their word.”
Graham’s bill has also sparked the ire of staunch antiabortion advocates, including far-right Catholic podcaster Matt Walsh, who tarred the senator as an agent provocateur. “It’s almost like he wants Republicans to lose. That’s the conspiracy theory that I would actually subscribe to here,” the Daily Wire host said. “This is sabotage. It’s the only way to explain it.” He went on to note how there are some “Republicans who want to be the minority party” so that they can remain “in the position of proposing laws that they know cannot pass.”
That sentiment was shared most notably by Charlie Kirk, founder of the pro-Trump youth organization Turning Point USA. “Why is Lindsey Graham—25 days out from ballots going out—galloping in and saying we need a federal abortion ban?” Kirk asked during a Wednesday segment of his radio show. “That feels like election interference.” Kirk, who declared that he “would love a total abortion ban,” also noted that Democrats are “enthusiastic” about Graham’s bill now centering the midterms around “the one issue Democrats actually can win suburban women on.” Longtime Republican operative Roger Stone also skewered the bill as “willful sabotage,” accusing Graham of “purposely helping the Democrats to ensure that we do not take back the US Senate.”
In the weeks leading up to Graham’s antiabortion bill, some GOP candidates running in battleground Senate and House races attempted to distance themselves from the outer reaches of the party’s radical agenda on abortion. Arizona US Senate hopeful Blake Masters has softened much of his language around the procedure, which, during the primaries, he had called a form of “genocide.” Tiffany Smiley, the Republican nominee for US Senate in Washington—who indicated support for Texas’s near-total abortion ban—released an ad last month in which she stated, “I’m pro-life, but I oppose a federal abortion ban.” And in Nevada, GOP Senate nominee Adam Laxalt recently published an op-ed assuring voters that, if elected, he would not support a federal abortion ban.
In Washington, Republicans have mostly worked to downplay the surge of support that Democrats have received from pro-choice voters in the aftermath of Roe’s fall. In a Meet the Press segment on Sunday, GOP strategist Matt Gorman insisted that abortion is “not in the top four issues” for Americans voting this cycle, though a recent Gallup poll suggested otherwise.