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Lake: It's 'unfortunate' AZ officials won't enforce the state's near-total abortion ban

Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Kari Lake said it’s unfortunate that top Arizona officials aren’t planning to enforce the state’s near-total abortion ban.

Since the Arizona Supreme Court upheld the state’s 1864 abortion ban, which includes no exceptions for rape or incest, Lake has echoed former President Donald Trump by say the law “out of step with Arizonans” and has called on state lawmakers to repeal it.

But in an interview Saturday with the Idaho Dispatch, Lake expressed disappointment in efforts by Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs and Attorney General Kris Mayes to prevent prosecutions of abortion providers.

“Unfortunately, the people running our state have said we’re not going to enforce it, so it’s really political theater,” Lake said. “We don’t have that law, as much as many of us wish we did.”

Lake was responding to a question about criticism from Idaho Chooses Life, a local anti-abortion rights organization. 

Executive Director David Ripley issued a statement ahead of Lake’s Idaho visit expressing “profound disappointment” that Lake had joined “the media mob in calling for an immediate ‘fix’ to Arizona’s historic law protecting preborn children.”

“Our heroine joined the mob in calling the law archaic, and in need of ‘improvement’ — by which Mrs. Lake meant that more abortions should be made legal in Arizona,” the statement continued.

A spokesman for the Lake campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lake’s critics, including her U.S. Senate rival, Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego, have described Lake’s response to the Arizona Supreme Court ruling as an effort to dupe voters.

They point to past statements Lake made as a gubernatorial candidate in 2022, when she lauded the territorial abortion ban.

“Let's be clear. This is exactly what Kari Lake wanted,” Gallego said at a campaign rally earlier this month. “She did call this a great law. She not only called it a great law, she cited it by statute. So let's not be fooled. Don't let Kari Lake fool you.”

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Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.