May 22, 2024
Senate Republican candidate Kari Lake is clarifying her stance on abortion while also pushing Republican lawmakers in Arizona to repeal a 19th-century restriction on abortion that was upheld by the state Supreme Court this week, shaking up the campaign in the critical battleground state.  After the court ruling on Tuesday that upheld an 1864 Civil […]

Senate Republican candidate Kari Lake is clarifying her stance on abortion while also pushing Republican lawmakers in Arizona to repeal a 19th-century restriction on abortion that was upheld by the state Supreme Court this week, shaking up the campaign in the critical battleground state. 

After the court ruling on Tuesday that upheld an 1864 Civil War-era law that will soon put into place a near-total abortion ban in the state that only makes exceptions to save the life of a pregnant woman, Lake and other Republican candidates on the ballot are attempting to navigate the complex political terrain, as Democrats relentlessly hammer them on the issue of abortion.

In the aftermath of the decision, Lake began calling state lawmakers in the Republican-controlled House and Senate, urging them to repeal the law, according to several people familiar, signaling growing fears the ruling could have major implications for her campaign come election day. Republicans in the legislature earlier in the week blocked an effort from Democrats to repeal the law.

The ruling has also forced former President Donald Trump to clarify his stance, who is now asking the Arizona State legislature to “act immediately” to change abortion laws, in the same week where he had also stated the issue should be left to the states.

“The Supreme Court in Arizona went too far on their Abortion Ruling, enacting and approving an inappropriate Law from 1864,” Trump wrote on Truth Social Friday afternoon. “So now the Governor and the Arizona Legislature must use HEART, COMMON SENSE, and ACT IMMEDIATELY, to remedy what has happened.”

“Remember, it is now up to the States and the Good Will of those that represent THE PEOPLE,” Trump added, saying there would “ideally” be exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and instances where the life of the mother is at risk.

Despite growing pressure from top Republicans and Democrats to reverse the law, it’s unclear whether Republican leaders who control both chambers will allow any action on proposals to repeal the ban. 

Lake also has taken steps to speak out against the ruling, releasing an over five-minute video on social media on Thursday, emphasizing that the court decision is not what the people of her state want and reiterating that she would not support a federal ban if she is elected to the U.S. Senate.

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“If you look at where the population is on this, a full ban on abortion is not where the people are,” Lake says in the video in which she’s speaking over dramatic instrumentals showing photos and video of women and pregnancy tests.

The former TV anchor had previously been working to moderate her position on abortion in the midst of her Senate run. Last month, Lake said she was supportive of a 15-week restriction and clarified she was not supportive of the controversial Arizona territorial rule, in an interview with NBC News. 

However, Democrats are working to remind voters that Lake’s stance is a retreat from the anti-abortion rhetoric she embraced in her 2022 failed campaign for governor. Lake said in a 2022 interview on “The Conservative Circus With James T. Harris,” that she was  “incredibly thrilled that we are going to have a great law that’s already on the books. I believe it’s ARS 13-3603.” 

That is the law upheld by the state Supreme Court that allows for imprisonment of abortion providers for up to five years.

The Democratic National Committee has also been promoting a video on social media from 2022 in which Lake said she didn’t believe in abortion and that she doesn’t “think abortion pills should be legal.”

Lake’s likely Democratic opponent, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), is also taking aim at the leading Republican for Senate in Arizona’s prior comments.

“Kari Lake will say or do anything to get power, but her long-standing record of wanting to ban abortion is clear,” said Hannah Goss, a spokeswoman for Gallego’s campaign in a statement to the Washington Examiner on Friday. “She called this near-total ban without exceptions for rape or incest a ‘great law.’ Arizonans know not to trust her.”

Caroline Wren, a senior adviser to Lake, insisted on social media this week that Lake was referring to a more recent 15-week ban. The issue of abortion is now taking center stage as the fate of the Senate majority, and White House could be decided based on the election results in the political battleground. 

“Look, Kari is doing the best she can to navigate this situation — and there’s just not anymore I could even advise her to do,” said a GOP strategist with ties to Arizona, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “This just became sort of a political nightmare for Republicans. If I said I wasn’t concerned about this, I’d absolutely be lying.”

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Abortion rights advocates were already working on a petition to place an amendment on the ballot in the state for the 2024 election that would make access to the procedure a “fundamental right,” even before the state’s Supreme Court upheld the Civil War-era law. It’s another reason some Republicans fear this election cycle may not go their way.

“If the Republican legislature doesn’t fix this in some way and this abortion measure makes it on the Arizona ballot, we’re toast. There’s just no other way to say it,” the person added.

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