Tonight the Senate held a vote on legislation which would ban abortions after 20 weeks of the pregnancy. The legislation was introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and had bi-partisan support. Democrats Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly, and Bob Casey voted for the bill.
For what it’s worth, polling done by the Susan B. Anthony List (a pro-life organization) suggested that 56 percent of North Dakotans supported the legislation.
But Heitkamp voted to kill it, and it failed 51-46. Just after casting her “no” vote, Senator Heitkamp could be seen on the Senate floor high-fiving Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer:
You can bet that Republicans are going to make some hay out of that visual.
Will this hurt Heitkamp? It’s hard to say. On one hand, North Dakota is traditionally thought of as a pro-life state. On the other hand, when pro-life issues have been put on the ballot in recent years they haven’t done very well.
Perhaps Heitkamp thinks North Dakotans are on her side of this issue. Or, at least, ambivalent enough about it that it won’t sway their vote in the Senate race.
Of course, a 20-week ban isn’t all that radical. In Roe vs. Wade the Supreme Court made viability of the unborn child outside the womb an important legal consideration. At 20 weeks the survival rate…isn’t very good. But that’s a moving target. As medical technology and techniques improve that viability number is going to get earlier and earlier.
But beyond the viability question, pregnancy is usually detectable by the 4-6 week period. A 20-week ban allows for plenty of time for a woman to make a decision as to whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. Which is probably why about 6 in 10 Americans supported a 20 week abortion ban in 2017 according to this Marist poll.