Maddow Blog | Kari Lake lobbies to repeal abortion ban she previously endorsed

On Tuesday afternoon, Republican-appointed justices on the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that a 160-year-old near-total abortion ban — first adopted before Arizona was even a state — is enforceable. By the early evening, Senate hopeful Kari Lake was denouncing the decision as “out of step with Arizonans.”

The rhetoric was understandable. The Republican conspiracy theorist has already lost one statewide race, and hoping to prevent another failure, the candidate is taking subtle steps to appear more mainstream, hoping that voters in the Grand Canyon State conveniently forget everything she’s said and done in recent years.

But that was just Lake’s first step. NBC News reported:

The Senate candidate also posted a video to social media yesterday in which Lake seemed to suggest that she supports reproductive rights, despite her record pointing in the opposite direction. “I chose life,” she said in the video. “But I’m not every woman. I want to make sure that every woman who finds herself pregnant has more choices so that she can make that choice that I made.”

Look, I’m mindful of the context. Lake narrowly lost her gubernatorial race two years ago because she alienated mainstream voters with her far-right and conspiratorial views. She’s not only desperate to appear less extreme, the Republican also realizes that a whole lot of abortion rights advocates are poised to turn out in the fall to support a proposed constitutional amendment on reproductive rights.

For that matter, I’m also keenly aware of the fact that some politicians have been known to take dramatic 180-degree turns in the hopes of winning an election.

But this is one for the books. As recently as 2022 — hardly ancient history — Lake said in reference to the 1864 abortion ban, “We have a great law on the books right now.”

A spokesperson for her Senate campaign claimed this week that Lake wasn’t referring to the 160-year-old policy. That was not a credible defense: As a New York Times report explained, the Republican candidate literally cited the 1864 law’s number in the Arizona state code when endorsing the policy a couple of years ago.

“I’m incredibly thrilled that we are going to have a great law that’s already on the books. I believe it’s ARS 13-3603,” Lake said in a 2022 interview. The same report added that she made other remarks in support of the 1864 law during her gubernatorial candidacy.

The question the Republican ought to be answering right now is not whether she currently supports the old abortion ban, but rather, why she suddenly changed her mind after repeatedly and publicly endorsing the old abortion ban.

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