Today, Senator Lindsey Graham introduced the Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act into the U.S. Senate, a bill that, if passed, would impose a nationwide ban on any abortion occurring after 15 weeks. In response to the proposed legislation, Legal Defense Fund (LDF) President and Director-Counsel Janai S. Nelson issued the following statement:

“In the months since the Supreme Court upended its own precedent and cast-off the Constitutional framework that had made abortion access a right for nearly half of a century, LDF has called on the Biden-Harris administration and Congress to take bold and forceful action to increase access to abortion services and to make clear that the federal government will protect both patients and providers. While the status quo under Roe was grossly insufficient, with millions of people unable to exercise their nominal right to bodily autonomy, there is no question that the post-Roe world is even more hostile to this fundamental right.

“As Senator Graham’s new proposal of a national abortion ban makes clear, however, simply holding the line is not an option. In the time since the Dobbs decision, a dozen states — and counting — have limited or outright banned access to abortion. This new proposal needs to be understood in that context. It is not an attempt to find a middle ground; it is an attempt to curtail the fundamental right to bodily autonomy, period. And it will come with unthinkable costs, especially to those least equipped to bear further burdens.

“A 2021 study, for example, estimated that a national abortion ban would lead to a 21% increase in the number of pregnancy-related deaths, overall, and a stunning 33% increase in deaths for Black people in particular. Senator Graham’s proposal also underscores the hypocrisy of Justice Alito’s suggestion that states are at liberty to resolve the question of reproductive rights, which, in itself is an abrogation of constitutional rights.

“While we will continue to urge the Biden-Harris administration and Congress to take direct, immediate actions to protect abortion access, we will also continue to remind voters across the country that the best way they can ensure national policy on abortion access reflects their preferences is to organize their communities and to vote in November. No one should doubt, at this point, the immense ramifications of this debate. Rather than follow the path laid out by members of the Senate who would reduce reproductive rights even further, we call on policymakers at the federal level to arrest this slide toward even greater iniquity and to make reproductive justice the north star of abortion policy in the post-Dobbs U.S.”


Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights.