How Kari Lake changed and changed her abortion position

In 2022, Republican candidate Kari Lake, vying to become governor, called abortion the “ultimate sin” and praised a 160-year-old Arizona measure that effectively banned abortion as “a great law.”

But in recent weeks, as it became clear that the Arizona Supreme Court was nearing a decision on the fate of that law, Lake, who is now vying to become a U.S. senator, called the law “out of step with the people of Arizona '.

Lake, a former television news anchor who narrowly lost her 2022 gubernatorial race to Gov. Katie Hobbs (D), has taken a different tone on reproductive rights as the issue It seems to be becoming an inspiring force in this election cycle. The spotlight has been firmly on Arizona since the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a near-total ban passed before Arizona became a state can be enforced.

The ruling, which has not yet taken effect, would ban the procedure except to save the life of a pregnant person. Health care providers who perform abortions could be punished with prison time, although Arizona Attorney General, Democrat Kris Mayes, has vowed not to enforce any bans. The decision has sent shockwaves across the state and could jeopardize Republican hopes for a U.S. Senate seat. Lake is expected to face Democratic Rep. in the November general election. Ruben Gallego.

Since Tuesday's ruling, Lake has called on Hobbs and the Republican Party-led state legislature to work together to find a solution. In a 5½-minute campaign video released Thursday, Lake attempted to appeal to the state's majority: proverb the near-total abortion ban — which invokes an 1864 law that said anyone who obtains an abortion could face a mandatory prison sentence of two to five years — is “not in keeping with where the people of this state are.”

In the video, Lake stated that if elected to the Senate, she would not support federal funding for abortions nor would she support a federal abortion ban. She expressed support for exceptions to abortion in cases of rape, incest or threats to the pregnant person's life, and also noted that she wants other pregnant women to have “more choices” — but did not go into details.

“I have chosen life, but I am not every woman. “I want to ensure that every woman who finds herself pregnant has more choices so that she can make the same choice I did,” she said.

In addition to laying out her position on abortion, Lake also voiced her support for what she called a “baby bonus”: providing tax breaks to individuals who marry and lowering their tax rate for each child born. Throughout the video, Lake repeatedly associated her position on the abortion issue with former President Donald Trump — who continues to vote for President Biden in Arizona.

When asked for comment, Lake's campaign referred The Washington Post to the video posted Thursday.

Trump has found he needs to change his position on abortion, especially during this election cycle. Just a day before the Arizona ruling came out, Trump said states should make their own decisions about regulating abortion. But he then criticized the Arizona court for reinstating an abortion law that he said goes too far.

Lake was also among a long list of Republican politicians who have stated that they believe life begins at conception.

But since then Roe v. Wade was overturned nationally two years ago, Arizona is faced with the question of how to change its laws. Since December 2022, the state has allowed doctors to perform abortions up to fifteen weeks into pregnancy, with exceptions for medical emergencies.

Then came a ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court in February declaring that frozen embryos should be considered children. This prompted many in vitro fertilization providers to temporarily halt the procedure while they weighed the consequences of the decision. The Alabama ruling prompted many Republicans — including Lake and members of Congress who signed legislation declaring life begins at conception — to express support for in vitro fertilization.

Now, Arizona voters are about to consider whether to amend the state's constitution in November to enshrine abortion rights. Polls show that a majority of Arizona voters want abortion to be legal and many say it is an issue that motivates their voting decision.

A October New York Times-Siena College Survey found that 59 percent of Arizona registered voters thought abortion should be legal most or all of the time; 34 percent said it should be mostly or always illegal. In a March Fox News Poll39 percent of Arizona voters said abortion would be extremely important in determining their vote for president, and 32 percent said it would be very important. Those who supported Biden in 2020 were almost twice as likely to say the issue would be extremely important in their vote: 51 percent versus 27 percent.

Arizona's ruling – and Republicans' response to it – has once again highlighted the electoral challenge the Republican Party faces regarding their party's record on abortion and reproductive rights.

So far, access to abortion in the post-Roo This era has been a winning one for Democrats, and ballot measures to expand access to abortion have been successful, even in Republican-dominated states. At the same time, Republicans like Lake find they have had to reconsider what they have said about the issue in the past.

During a Republican gubernatorial debate in 2022, when Lake expressed support for the 1864 law, she added that abortion pills should be illegal and said she believes life begins at conception.

“My personal belief is that all life matters. All life counts, and all life is precious, and I don't believe in abortion,” she said at the time. “I think the older law will come into effect and come into effect. That's what I believe will happen.”

Lake also told “The Conservative Circus with James T. Harris” in a 2022 radio interview that she supported a law banning abortions, with exceptions to save the life of the mother.

“I'm incredibly excited that we're getting a great bill that's already on the books,” Lake said said, adding that “it will ban abortion in Arizona except to save a mother's life. And I think we're going to pave the way and set a course for other states to follow.”

Lake, who remains the frontrunner ahead of this summer's Republican Party primaries, will then likely face Gallego, a congressman from Phoenix. He and other Democrats are taking the opportunity to attack her mixed comments on the issue.

Speaking to reporters before appearing with Vice President Harris at a campaign rally in Tucson on Friday, Gallego emphasized the importance of abortion rights to voters, saying abortion access was “the number one political issue” in Arizona.

Gallego and Harris both blamed Trump for what happened in Arizona, linking the new, near-total abortion ban to Trump's appointment of conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices, who ultimately overturned the case. Roo in 2022.

“The overthrow of Roo was without a doubt a seismic event – ​​and this ban here in Arizona is one of the biggest aftershocks yet,” Harris said.

Lake could also lose some of her key supporters and anti-abortion activists as she fights for a more moderate message. Steve Deace, a conservative talk show host from Iowa, wrote this week on X that he was “extremely disappointed” by Lake's opposition to the ruling. “In 2022, I thought Kari Lake was one of the best prospects I've ever seen, and I said so. Now she is almost completely unrecognizable from the candidate she was then, just two years later,” he wrote.

Kim Owens, who has long been involved with the Republican Party of Arizona, also said she was disappointed by Lake's recent statements.

“If you are pro-life and you look at the landscape and you recognize that this is something we have been fighting for decades and the fight continues, then in Arizona we are faced with a ballot proposal that is an abomination. Owens said.

Owens, who is backing Lake's main GOP rival in the Senate race Mark Lamb, a sheriff, said she thinks Lake is “trying to go beyond her base” to attract more voters.

“I think she understands that she no longer has the allure she once had. She's seen the numbers. Mark Lamb has a lot of support from party faithful and she is worried she is going to lose her base,” she said.

Mariana Alfaro, Yvonne Wingett-Sanchez Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Sabrina Rodriguez contributed to this report.

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