Where Does Kari Lake Stand On Arizona Abortion Law? Depends Who She Is Talking To

Estimated read time 5 min read

A local Arizona news outlet published a story last week highlighting remarks the Republican Senate candidate and election denier Kari Lake made to a crowd at an event put on by the Mohave County Republican Party. She appeared to lament the fact that the 1864-era total abortion ban that the state Supreme Court just allowed back on the books won’t be enforced in the state, unless local sheriffs decide to do it.

But it was unclear, at least to me, what exactly Lake was trying to articulate. The local Copper Courier’s report was based on a recording the publication had obtained, so we didn’t have a full window into the context of the remarks. What the Arizona news outlet published appeared to be at least a partial reversal on her most recent views on the state’s territorial ban. In the below quote, the “I don’t think they are” is what tripped me up — it’s somewhat ambiguous. Emphasis mine:

“We can have that law, but it’s not going to be enforced with the people we have in office,” Lake said in the recording obtained by The Copper Courier. “No, we don’t have that law. She’s not enforcing the law, so we don’t have them. The only people who can enforce that law are our sheriffs. And we need to start asking the sheriffs if they’re willing to enforce that. I don’t think they are.

Additionally, at the Mohave County event, Lake appeared to be on the same page as Trump about exceptions to the ban: “I agree with President Trump, that we need to have exceptions for rape and incest,” she said. “It’s very reasonable to ask for that. I know that there’s very few abortions that happen that are [due to] rape and incest, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for that.”

Lake has been flipping around on where she stands on the draconian law for some time. As recently as fall 2023 she expressed support for the territorial ban, only to backtrack when she attempted to moderate her stance on abortion in March.

“It’s probably going to be the 15th week or whatever is in this ballot initiative. … I trust the people of Arizona to vote on this, if that’s what happens, and get this right,” Lake told NBC News last month, before saying the 15-week ban is “something that Americans can get behind because it gives people options, gives women options, and makes sure that there are carveouts.”

When the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of putting the ban back on the books earlier this month, Lake, like Trump, came out against the decision and said it was “abundantly clear that the pre-statehood law is out of step with Arizonans.”

“I am calling on Katie Hobbs and the State Legislature to come up with an immediate common sense solution,” she said in a statement two weeks ago.

But she’s switching things up again. What was not entirely clear in her remarks to Mohave County Republican Party became abundantly clear in an interview she gave to the Idaho Dispatch.

“The Arizona Supreme Court said this is the law of Arizona. But unfortunately, the people running our state have said we’re not going to enforce it,” Lake said, referencing recent remarks from Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) and Attorney General Kris Mayes (D) who plan to block prosecutions related to the law. 

“We don’t have that law, as much as many of us wish we did,” Lake continued. 

It’s quite a clear statement, and, seemingly, a stark reversal. And it appears the sneaky about-face came as she faces criticism from an anti-abortion group in Idaho. It’s unclear if Lake thought the interview would get national attention, but her campaign did not respond when asked for comment from NBC News:

Lake’s campaign did not immediately respond to questions about her comments in the Idaho Dispatch interview.

Lake was in Idaho as the keynote speaker for a local county Republican Party dinner. Her comments came in response to criticism from a group that opposes abortion rights, Idaho Chooses Life.

Flopping back to supporting the Civil War era law comes just a few days after Arizona House Republicans once again blocked their Democratic colleagues’ efforts to repeal the law in response to the befuddling ruling. Perhaps Lake is worried about rocking the boat her fellow Arizona Republicans feel just fine riding into November.

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