Lindsey Graham breaks with Republicans on support for Trump’s abortion policy

Most Senate Republicans said they agreed with former president Donald Trump’s declaration that he would leave abortion policy to the states, with one notable exception: Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Mr Trump released a video on his Truth Social platform in which he refused to back a national abortion ban, saying the issue should be left to the states.

Most Republican Senators said that they supported his position.

Lindsey Graham cricitised former president Donald Trump for saying abortion should be left to the states (Getty Images)
Lindsey Graham cricitised former president Donald Trump for saying abortion should be left to the states (Getty Images)

“Abortion is an issue on which our nation is divided, and people of good faith feel passionate on both sides of the issue,” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who faces re-election in November, told The Independent. “The way our constitution operates, is issues like that are decided by the voters and the scenario we have right now is in each state, the voters make a determination as to the rules and laws consistent with their values that that's our Constitution. And that's democracy.”

Texas has one of the more stringent laws regarding abortion, banning it after six weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest. President Joe Biden invited Kate Cox, a woman who had to leave Texas to terminate an unviable pregnancy, as a guest to his State of the Union address.

Senator Rick Scott of Florida told reporters that Mr Trump’s decision was in line with what the Supreme Court wrote in the Dobbs v Jackson decision in 2022. Last week, Florida’s supreme court simultaneously upheld the state’s 15-week ban--which would likely cause the state’s six-week abortion ban--while also ruling that a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution to enshrine abortion rights could go on the ballot this November.

Democrats immediately pounced on Mr Trump’s words. Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Mr Biden’s campaign manager, released a memo saying that Mr Trump would ban abortion nationwide.

“Let’s be clear: Trump and his allies won’t stop until abortion is banned nationwide,” the memo said. “Donald Trump is taking credit for every dystopian impact from state abortion bans.”

But Senator Steve Daines of Montana, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Conference, told The Independent that he agreed with Mr Trump.

“It’s a lie when the Democrats say that Republicans want to put a national ban on abortion,” he said.

Democrats hope to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in Mr Daines’s home state of Montana, which some hope will save the state’s Democratic Senator Jon Tester, who faces a tough re-election in a state Mr Trump won by double digits in 2016 and 2020.

Senator Thom Tillis praised Mr Trump’s positioning of the Republican Party on abortion.

“Now it's going to be up to the candidates to determine whether or not that may necessarily put them in a position where they disagree with the decisions [of] their state legislatures,” he told reporters.

Last year, North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a 12-week abortion ban that Democratic Governor Roy Cooper vetoed, which it overrode.

But not every Republican agreed with Mr Trump’s stance.

“I believe that the American people, when you ask them about abortion early on, fairly pro-choice,” Mr Graham told The Independent. “ The more the child develops, the more understanding that the child is an individual.”

In 2022, in the weeks before the midterm election, Mr Graham proposed a 15-week ban on abortion that most Republicans did not adopt.

Mr Trump criticised both Mr Graham and Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the anti-abortion Susan B Anthony List, on his Truth Social site.

“Senator Lindsey Graham and Marjorie Dannenfelser should study the 10th Amendment and States’ Rights,” he said on Truth Social. “When they do, they should proudly get on with helping Republicans to WIN ELECTIONS, rather than making it impossible for them to do so!”

But Mr Graham, who serves as the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, disputed Mr Trump’s saying that the Dobbs decision said there was no federal role.

“There are three laws on the books at the federal level,” he told The Independent. “So the idea that Dobbs prevents the federal government from acting I think is an error.”

Democrats also disputed Mr Trump’s remarks as well.

“I think we need an opportunity for women to have what we had with Roe v Wade for the last 50 years the opportunity to seek health care and abortions,” Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, who won re-election in 2022 largely by campaigning on defending abortion rights, told The Independent.