Kari Lake flips on abortion ban, but says she wants to ‘save as many babies as possible’

Kari Lake responds to a question from an attendee of a campaign event following her speech on the University of Arizona campus on April 11. 2024. The event was organized by the UA Young Republicans club. Photo by Michael McKisson | Arizona Luminaria

At a campaign rally at the University of Arizona just days after the Arizona Supreme Court allowed a near-total ban on abortions to take effect in the state, U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake reiterated her pro-life stance and questioned the limits of a ballot proposition that is the likely next political fight over abortion in Arizona.

Lake was greeted to applause, selfies and cheers from a half-full audience of about 80 people at the campaign rally hosted by the College Republicans student group.

“Safety. Security. Freedom. That’s what’s on the ballot in November,” Lake told the crowd.

Lake, a Republican, is running to represent Arizona in the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Kyrsten Sinema, an independent who is not seeking reelection. Lake previously ran for governor in Arizona in 2022, refused to concede and disputed the election results in court.

The outcome of this Senate race could determine which party takes control of the Senate in 2025, and politicians from both parties seized on the Arizona abortion decision to try to win voters’ support.

In a video posted to Lake’s page on X, she shared her thoughts on the abortion ruling handed down on Tuesday by the Arizona Supreme Court. “We’re going to work through this,” she said.

In the video, she acknowledges that some women could choose to have an abortion because they were the victim or rape or abuse, or for financial reasons.

While running for governor, Lake called abortion a sin and said she supported abortion bans and the 1864 law. In the video Thursday, she said her mind was changed while on a summer trip to Hungary, highlighting the nation’s financial support system for mothers.

The Hungarian government added restrictions to abortion access in 2022, adding a law that a person seeking an abortion must first listen to the “fetal heartbeat.”

“As your Senator, I will oppose federal funding and federal banning of abortion,” Lake said in the video.

At the rally, Lake was faced with a tough question from an audience member about her recent change in stance from the past.

“I want to know what you say to the people who trusted you and believed you,” the audience member asked.

Lake said she is pro-life and added, “I want to save as many babies as possible.”

But she made it clear that politicians should not be imposing their view on others, and that this new ruling with no exceptions will not stand.

She said the 1864 law won’t survive the ballot initiative that could be coming to Arizona voters in November. The Arizona Abortion Access initiative would add a fundamental right to abortion to the Arizona Constitution if approved by Arizona voters.

To get on the ballot, Arizona for Abortion Access needs at least 383,923 valid signatures by the July 4 deadline. The group has been collecting signatures since September and said earlier this month that it has more than 500,000 signatures collected so far.

Lake said the ballot proposition would allow abortion up to 9 months.

The language of the ballot initiative would allow an abortion “after fetal viability if a treating healthcare provider determines an abortion is needed to protect the life or physical or mental health of the patient.” And “fetal viability” means the fetus could survive outside the uterus.

This is one of the main arguments of the opposition campaign, called It Goes Too Far.

“The voters of this state will vote for that if there’s not an exception for a 10-year-old who’s a victim of incest,” Lake said about the 1864 law. “I can’t imagine any circumstance that I would choose an abortion, but I’m not in the shoes of a woman who has been brutally raped and neither are you.”

The rally drew out some loyal Kari Lake supporters, as well as some opposition voters.

One of the people in attendance in support of Lake was Janet Wittenbraker, a Republican who is running for a seat on the Pima County Board of Supervisors after running for mayor last year.

“I’m a huge Kari Lake supporter,” Wittenbraker said. “She’s a dynamic woman who has the interests of America in mind and in heart.”

Another Lake supporter in attendance was Isaac Gorski. Gorski is 31 years old and  works as a long haul trucker. He used to be a student at the UA, and was a member of the Young Republicans, but left because he “couldn’t stand all the brainwashing and manipulation.”

Gorski has been a fan of Lake’s since she ran for governor in 2022.

“I’m one of those people who believe that the red wave happened and the election was stolen,” he said.

He identified himself as a “staunch conservative.” He is in favor of “abortion abolition,” he said. “I’m the father of four kids, one isn’t born yet, but I count it.” He said that Lake’s recent stance against the Arizona Supreme Court decision is part of her political strategy. “We don’t need politicians, we need statesmen,” he said, a category that includes Lake.

Citlali Montoya is an intern with the Pima County Democratic Party and she and some colleagues decided to come to the Lake rally to show their opposition.

Some hecklers in the crowd yelled to Lake while walking out the event “young voters in Arizona will reject you!”

Lake countered, saying, “by November they’ll be voting for me.”

“By November they’ll realize they don’t have free speech. By November they’ll realize they can’t afford their groceries. They’ll realize that, by November, we might be neck deep in a war,” Lake said.

At the end of her remarks, Lake said that Tucson has had better years. She said every time she is in Tucson, she sees boarded up businesses when driving around.

“This town should be thriving, this is a college town, I mean you have the Wildcats!” An audience member then cheered and said Bear Down and threw up the Wildcat sign. Lake smiled and put one up as well and continued, saying, “That’s a perfect motto for this next year. It is time to bear down to save America, and to save Arizona.”

Reporter John Washington contributed to this article.

This article first appeared on AZ Luminaria and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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