WASHINGTON (WCBD) – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced a bill on Tuesday that would set federal minimum protections for unborn children and bans abortion after 15 weeks. A point at which he said unborn children “can feel pain.”

The lawmaker from South Carolina said the current standard of medical care calls for unborn babies to receive pain medication during fetal surgery at 15 weeks gestation. “Life-saving surgeries performed in utero, using pain medication, include treatment for twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome and spina bifida,” Graham noted.

He was joined at a press conference by a group of “pro-life leaders” as he presented the Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act.

Graham said the legislation puts the United States in line with other modern societies. He said 47 out of 50 European nations limit elective abortion prior to 15 weeks gestation.

The bill prohibits doctors from performing – or attempting to perform – an abortion if the probable post-fertilization age of the fetus is 15 weeks or more.

According to a summary of the bill, violators will be subject to criminal penalties including a fine, a prison term of up to five years, or both.

“Working closely with the preeminent pro-life groups in the country, we are today introducing legislation to ban abortion at a time when unborn children can feel pain,” Graham said. “Our legislation, which bans abortion after 15 weeks gestation, will put the United States abortion policy in line with other developed nations such as France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, and other European nations.”

“The bill provides exceptions for an abortion (1) that is necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman, or (2) when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. A physician who performs or attempts to perform an abortion under an exception must comply with specified requirements,” the document reads.

Graham said more than 55,000 abortions at 15 weeks gestation happen each year in the United States. “The most recent state-level data shows that the majority of late-term abortions are performed for elective reasons,” he said.

Graham has previously stated that abortion decisions should be left up to individual states.

Dr. Annie Andrews, who is running for South Carolina’s First Congressional District, released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying:

“For decades politicians like Lindsey Graham and Nancy Mace have argued that abortion should be left to the states. 

This has never been about ‘states rights.’ They have used that lie to give themselves more and more power to enact their tyrannical, anti-science, anti-woman policies. And no matter how Nancy Mace spins her extreme position, the fact remains that this is what she and her Republican allies have been working towards for decades. They will not stop until they have a say in your every decision. They can not be trusted.”