MANCHESTER, N.H. – EXCLUSIVE – Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said there’s ‘no question’ he would support a 20-week federal ban on abortion and would potentially consider a 15-week limit.
Scott, a rising star in the GOP and the only Black Republican in the Senate, made news early Thursday in New Hampshire as he told local TV station WMUR that if elected president, he would support a 20-week ban on abortion. He reiterated that position a couple of hours later in an interview with Fox News at a café in Manchester — the state’s most populous city — but went a step further.
‘At least 20 weeks. There’s no question that I think the 15 weeks — there’s a lot of reasons for us to understand that, the viability,’ Scott told Fox News on his second day of campaigning in the crucial early presidential nominating states of Iowa and New Hampshire after launching a presidential exploratory committee.
Abortion, always an important issue on the campaign trail, took center stage following the blockbuster move last June by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to overturn the landmark nearly half-century old Roe v. Wade ruling, which allowed for legalized abortions nationwide. The decision by the high court moved the divisive issue of abortion back to the states. Last year, following the Supreme Court ruling, Scott’s GOP colleague from South Carolina, Sen. Lindsey Graham, proposed a 15-week federal ban on abortions.
‘There’s no question that the health of the child, the viability of the child, 20 weeks in my opinion is a no question. But the 15-week threshold is something that I believe is a place where you find a national limit that says ‘no more.’ States can do less. That’s got to be a state’s opportunity to do what they want to do.’
Taking questions from reporters after a stop at the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester, a longtime must stop for White House hopefuls from both major political parties, Scott criticized Democrats for being hypocrites on the abortion issue and took aim at Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen for suggesting at a Senate Banking hearing that participation in the workforce by African American women in poverty could be increased by having abortions.
‘The most egregious form of restrictions are the lack of restrictions that our friends on the other side of the aisle have been voting for. They voted for late-term abortions up until the time of birth,’ Scott argued in his Fox News interview.
The senator charged that ‘the most egregious form of this conversation gets so little coverage and so there’s no doubt that we have to find a threshold where we know that while the issue allows the states to be as aggressive or permissive as they want to be, I think there is the need for some kind of threshold that says we’re going to limit access to abortions for x number of weeks because we continue to see the rise of the far radical left wanting abortions up to the day of birth.’
And he emphasized that ‘we can’t be a country aligned with North Korea and China,’ which allow abortions for any reasons even after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Scott, who’s co-sponsored restrictive abortions bills during his tenure in the Senate, including the 2021 Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which called for jail time for physicians who perform abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The senator, who’s reiterated when asked about abortion that he’s ‘100% pro-life,’ on Thursday declined to answer when asked whether he would support legislation to prosecute doctors who performed late-term abortions.
Speaking with reporters, Scott declined to weigh in on whether medication abortions should remain legal, in the wake ruling this week by a federal appeals court that preserved access to the abortion pill mifepristone for now reduced the period of pregnancy when the drug can be used, and said it could not be dispensed by mail. The Justice Department says it will ask the Supreme Court for an emergency order to put any action on hold.
‘The courts are on their way to solving the problem,’ Scott said.
Democrats spent millions attacking Republicans over abortion ahead of last year’s midterm elections, and it was a contributing factor in turning the hoped for red wave by Republicans into a trickle. Democrats increased their razor-thin Senate majority by one seat, and while they lost control of the House, they kept their losses to a minimum. Democrats also won a number of crucial gubernatorial contests and flipped a handful of GOP controlled state house chambers. And Democrats last week won a crucial state supreme court election in battleground Wisconsin — where abortion was a top issue — by double digits.
Scott has long highlighted his faith and has been a champion to social conservative voters, who overwhelming oppose abortion rights. He’s likely to heavily court evangelical voters, who play an outsized role in Republican politics in Iowa and his home state of South Carolina, which votes third in the GOP presidential nominating calendar.
Among his stops on Wednesday in Iowa was a roundtable discussion with homeschool families. And following his visit to the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester, New Hampshire, Scott privately met with a group of pastors.
Asked if that’s his path to victory in the GOP nomination race, Scott told Fox News: ‘I think my path to victory is just talking to people about commonsense. Commonsense conservatism works in New Hampshire as much as it does in South Carolina.’