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After Arizona Supreme Court ruling, Kari Lake denounces near-total abortion ban she once supported

Republican Kari Lake on Tuesday denounced an Arizona Supreme Court ruling reviving a near-total ban on abortion in the state — a law she previously praised as a gubernatorial candidate less than two years ago.

Written when Arizona had not yet become a state, the 1864 law forbids abortions except to save a mother’s life. It makes no exceptions for rape or incest and makes performing an abortion punishable by two to five years in prison. 

Lake, who’s now running for U.S. Senate in Arizona, said in a statement the law was “out of step with Arizonans.” 

“I oppose today’s ruling, and I am calling on [Gov.] Katie Hobbs and the state Legislature to come up with an immediate common sense solution that Arizonans can support,” Lake said. “Ultimately, Arizona voters will make the decision on the ballot come November.”

But Lake backed the law while on the campaign trail for governor of Arizona in 2022. In one interview, she identified the pre-statehood law by number, and said she was “thrilled that we are going to have a great law that’s already on the books” in the event the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. 

Justices did just that later that summer.

Lake’s Democratic rival, U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, noted in his own statement Lake’s past comments favoring the stricter, territorial abortion ban as opposed to the alternative — a 2022 state law allowing abortions up to 15 weeks into a pregnancy.

“Yet again, extremist politicians like Kari Lake are forcing themselves into doctors’ offices and ripping away the right for women to make their own healthcare decisions.”

Gallego told KJZZ that Lake, like many other Republicans in Arizona, are only now changing their tune on abortion for political gain.

“This is someone who suddenly wants to change her perspective because now she realizes it’s no longer politically viable,” Gallego said. “And we as Arizonans cannot trust someone like that to really represent women and their abortion rights in the Senate.”

A senior adviser to Lake said she would not be made available for interviews Tuesday, and referred back to her written statement.

In that statement, Lake also repeated her opposition to a federal ban on abortions. That position aligns with that of former President Donald Trump, who previously said he would consider supporting a 15-week federal abortion ban.

But Monday, Trump also said abortion should be left up to the states —  without mentioning a nationwide abortion ban, which many of his supporters hoped he would endorse.

“I am not going to D.C. to legislate an issue that has been returned to the states,” Lake said in her statement. “I’m going to D.C. to secure our border, strengthen our families and help President Trump Make America Great Again.”

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Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.