The question of abortion in America is far from settled. Despite Roe v. Wade being overturned in the summer of 2022, most Americans are not yet convinced that abortion should be totally illegal. In fact, most Americans think abortion should be legal in the first trimester of pregnancy (when 93% of all abortions occur) or in situations where a mother did not consent to becoming pregnant (rape or incest).

On top of that, the Democrat party’s official position is that there should be no limits whatsoever on abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. Yet, amidst U.S. popular opinion in favor of most abortions, the pro-life movement rightly remains committed to the total elimination of abortion, understanding it to be a grave human rights atrocity.

Where does that leave you and me, committed Americans who want to find a path toward LIFE in a culture that isn’t with us yet?

It leaves us in a desperate need of meaningful conversations and a renewed commitment to protections for children in the womb.

Our fellow Americans can change their minds on abortion. I’ve seen minds change when people of good faith are treated with respect and presented with facts that cause them to rethink their prior assumptions.

That is the conversation Senator Lindsey Graham started when he introduced a federal abortion ban shortly after the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Senator Graham didn’t introduce a bill to protect life at conception, or even when a baby’s heartbeat can be detected at 6 weeks. And he didn’t renew past attempts to pass pro-life bills like the one to ban infanticide on babies who survive failed abortions.

Instead, Senator Graham introduced a 15-week abortion ban.

Why? When the vast majority of abortions occur before 15 weeks of pregnancy (earlier I mentioned that 93% of U.S. abortions occur in the first 13 weeks!), shouldn’t our legislators be asking for greater protections than just a 15-week ban?

What Senator Graham’s bill did do – regardless of where one may stand on whether it was a big enough ask – was start a conversation.

Suddenly the huge swath of Americans that are comfortable with abortion in the first trimester were introduced to the idea of abortions shortly after that point being illegal at a federal level – not just in the states that were already likely to protect more children following Roe’s reversal.

The 15-week abortion ban may represent a federal floor – an opportunity to begin a conversation with a friend, neighbor, or relative, about where they might share common ground on abortion. But pro-lifers are committed to the ceiling—a society where abortion is unthinkable and unnecessary in America. And a culture that sees and protects the value of every human life.  

Starting the conversation around a 15-week ban is an opportunity to find out what it is about abortion that would make our friends and neighbors uncomfortable with it later in pregnancy. Would they be uncomfortable with the fact at 15 weeks, the child is a human and has been one since conception? What if they knew that at 15 weeks the child and her organs are fully formed, she can feel pain, suck her thumb, and get hiccups? Does it change their view to know that if a 15 week old were allowed to live merely 7 more weeks in the womb, she would be able to live outside the womb?

Chances are, what makes them uncomfortable with later abortions would also make them uncomfortable with earlier abortions, if they knew enough about early abortions and were being honest with themselves.

Before he passed away in December of 2023, I asked my pro-life mentor and colleague, Rev. Dean Nelson, what he thought of the 15-week federal abortion ban. I wanted to know whether he thought pro-lifers like you and I should support it. He responded saying:

“I’m glad at least that there is a voice that is putting out some standard. We know that at 15 weeks, most abortions have already occurred. However, more than a political strategy, it really is a national discussion. We haven’t really had a meaningful national discussion around this issue in many years. I look at this as a floor – 15 weeks – as a national standard. Not a ceiling.

While this may be a winsome starting point to make progress in culture, the pro-life position does not shift with the winds of culture or politics. It is moored in an unwavering commitment to what is right and good—to protecting innocent humans from their very first moment of life.

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