Republican nominee for U.S. Senate Joe O’Dea would not support a recently introduced federal bill to ban abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy, he said Tuesday morning.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, introduced the bill Tuesday morning. It has little chance of ever reaching a vote in the Democrat-controlled Senate. But it signaled what Republicans might pursue if they retake control of the chamber now that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the right to an abortion as declared in Roe vs. Wade.
O’Dea thinks the 15-week ban goes too far.
“America wants balance on the abortion issue, not a forever cold war between the far left and the far right,” O’Dea said in a statement Tuesday. “Congress should pass a bill protecting a woman’s right to choose early in pregnancy, whether a woman lives in Mississippi or Massachusetts, and there should be sensible limits on non-medically necessary late term abortion and parental notification for minors. I don’t support Senator Graham’s bill.”
O’Dea has seen national attention for supporting legal abortion through the first several months of pregnancy while others in his party push for much stricter rules, if not outright bans, on the procedure.
In short, O’Dea supports legalized abortion up through fetal viability, which he considers about 20 weeks, with further allowances in cases of rape, incest and medical necessity. He also wants any federal legislation to include parental notification for children receiving the procedure and exemptions for religious hospitals.
“A Republican ban is as reckless and tone deaf as is Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer’s hostility to considering any compromise on late-term abortion, parental notification, or conscience protections for religious hospitals,” O’Dea said.
He signaled support for a bipartisan effort by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), Krysten Sinema (D-Arizona), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Murkowski’s office describes their effort as trying to codify “the essential holdings of Roe v. Wade and related cases.”
“Senators Kaine, Sinema, Collins, and Murkowski are providing leadership on behalf of the overwhelming majority of Americans,” O’Dea said. “We need more bipartisan dialogue, and less partisan peacocking from both sides.”
Abortion rights advocates have responded to O’Dea’s position by saying any restrictions on abortion invalidate women’s bodily autonomy and put pregnant people’s lives at risk if they need the procedure.
“Joe O’Dea has a disturbing record of supporting abortion bans, and last week he proudly announced he’s hoping to go to the Senate to bring ‘balance to women’s rights,’” Colorado Democrats spokesperson Nico Delgado said in a statement, referencing a recent interview O’Dea did with 9News. “He would easily give (Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans the majority they need to push a national abortion ban — and Coloradans can’t trust O’Dea to protect their rights when he’s proven to be a rubber stamp for the MAGA agenda.”
They’ve pointed to O’Dea’s support of the Supreme Court Justices who proved decisive to overturning Roe Vs. Wade and his prior vote for an unsuccessful 2020 ballot initiative that would have outlawed abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy, as reported by the Colorado Sun.
Incumbent Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet likewise opposes the bill. He has previously voted for the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would have codified the right to an abortion without restrictions and supports the right to the procedure. He also supports Colorado’s recently enacted state law codifying a right to the procedure without restrictions.
Bennet called Graham’s bill “completely outrageous,” while noting it would override state laws, including Colorado’s.
“(The bill) would affect every state, defying the will of Colorado voters and the majority of the Americans who support reproductive freedom,” Bennet said. “I will continue to defend a woman’s right to choose in the U.S. Senate and fight back against far-right attempts to allow the government to interfere in decisions between a woman and her doctor.”
Colorado Republican Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown likewise showed her disagreement with O’Dea soon after his statement.
“No. The majority of Americans support protecting the lives of children at 15 weeks,” she tweeted. “They are unique human beings who feel pain and deserve to have a chance at life — just like every one of us do. Children are always worth saving.”
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