Mitch McConnell throws cold water on Lindsey Graham's new 15-week abortion ban after anti-abortion activist says GOP leader 'cleared the pathway for this to happen'

  • GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced a bill that would ban most abortions nationwide after 15 weeks.

  • Mitch McConnell quickly dismissed the bill, saying most GOP senators want the issue left to states.

  • But the head of a major anti-abortion group told Insider that McConnell "cleared the pathway for this to happen."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday threw cold water on a new bill from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina that would outlaw most abortions nationwide after just 15 weeks of pregnancy.

At a press conference with anti-abortion rights advocates earlier on Tuesday, Graham told attendees that the key to holding a vote on his bill — which includes exceptions only for rape, incest, and the life of the mother — was for Republicans to regain both chambers of Congress.

"If we take back the House and the Senate, I can assure you we'll have a vote on our bill," he said.

But when asked whether he would hold a vote on the bill if his party regained control of the currently evenly-split Senate, McConnell said most Republicans don't support federal legislation on abortion.

"With regard to his bill, you'll have to ask him about it," said McConnell at his weekly press conference at the Capitol, referring to Graham. "In terms of scheduling, I think most of the members of my conference prefer that this be dealt with at the state level."

It was largely a reiteration of what McConnell told reporters following the leak of the draft Dobbs opinion in May: that new restrictions on abortion are unlikely to garner the 60 votes necessary to pass the chamber anytime soon.

Answering a follow-up question on the matter, McConnell indicated that he believes in having a diversity of opinion on the topic within his conference.

"I think every Republican senator running this year in these contested races has an answer as to how they feel about the issue," he said. "And it may be different in different states. So, I leave it up to our candidates who are quite capable of handling this issue to determine, for them, what their response is."

But McConnell's position contrasts with what Marjorie Dannenfelser — the president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, an influential anti-abortion rights group — told Insider at the Capitol earlier on Tuesday.

Standing behind Graham during the press conference, she said the minority leader was "all for" the bill that Graham had introduced. Asked for clarification by Insider afterwards, she said she'd spoken with McConnell, and that he was supportive of the measure.

"He cleared the pathway for this to happen," she said.

"I don't have an exact quote," she quipped, but insisted that McConnell was "fine with it."

A spokesman for McConnell did not immediately respond to Insider's request for clarification on the minority leader's position. It's possible that while he's personally supportive of the bill, he does not wish to commit to a vote ahead of the November midterm elections.

The fresh questions about Republicans' positions on abortion comes amid widespread backlash to the June decision overturning Roe v. Wade and ending the constitutional right to abortion.

Voters in Kansas rejected a constitutional amendment in August that would have removed the right to an abortion from the state constitution, and Democrats campaigning on abortion rights have outperformed expectations in recent special elections. Abortion also has emerged as a key issue for voters ahead of this year's midterm election, according to recent polls. Some Republican candidates have even tried to water down their stances on abortion.

Democrats, for their part, have quickly condemned Graham's proposal. Before the South Carolina Republican's press conference had even concluded, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement calling it the "latest, clearest signal of extreme MAGA Republicans' intent to criminalize women's health freedom in all 50 states and arrest doctors for providing basic care."

Read the original article on Business Insider