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Thune backs 15-week federal ban, Bengs supports Roe

Republican U.S. Sen. John Thune supports a proposed federal 15-week abortion ban.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, earlier this week.

Speaking before the Graham bill was introduced, Thune said he expects states to determine their individual abortion policies.

Thune, who is the second ranking Republican in the Senate, said that could reveal a national consensus.

“I could see us voting on something, for example, like a 20 week or a 15 week [ban]," Thune said. "That’s where a lot of the European countries are. That’s where 47 out of 50 European countries are and there seems to be political consensus around that. That was the Dobbs case, was about 15 weeks.”

Graham’s bill will likely not get a floor debate with Democrats holding a slim majority of the U.S. Senate.

Thune’s Democratic challenger in November questions his position.

Brian Bengs said Thune was adamant about having states decide abortion, but now supports a federal ban.

Bengs, a retired military lawyer, said his position on abortion mirrors what’s found in the Roe V. Wade ruling.

“There should be an unencumbered right for a woman to decide, basically, for the first trimester. Basically up until the point of viability, which is a little bit later,” Bengs said. “Then, the state gets ever increasing rights to provide limitations—good faith limitations—for the interest of the health of the mother, maternal health, and then later for the health of the fetus.”

The bill proposed by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham would require 60 votes in the senate. That kind of control in the Senate by either party is unlikely after the 2022 election.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.