Kari Lake bemoans fact that Arizona’s 1864 abortion ban is not being enforced, in another apparent shift

Republican Senate candidate Kari Lake expressed regret in a recent interview that Arizona’s century-old abortion ban was not being enforced by the state’s Democratic leadership, remarks that appear at odds with her recent public opposition to the law.

“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. So it’s really political theater,” Lake said in an interview with Idaho Dispatch on Saturday during a visit to the state.

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

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled on April 9 that the state must adhere to a 160-year-old law barring all abortions except in cases when “necessary” to save a pregnant woman’s life. The court delayed enforcement of the ban for at least 14 days to allow plaintiffs to challenge the law, and Arizona’s Democratic attorney general, Kris Mayes, told CNN that her office does not intend to prosecute providers or patients under the near-total ban. The attorney general’s website states that “the earliest the 1864 territorial abortion ban may take effect is June 8, 2024.”

CNN has reached out to Lake’s campaign for comment.

Lake’s latest remarks come as she confronts criticism from within the anti-abortion movement over her recent shift on the law.

In 2022, as a candidate for governor, the former TV news anchor praised the 1864 law in a podcast interview after Roe v. Wade was overturned, saying that she was “incredibly thrilled” that Arizona would have a “great law that’s already on the books” go into effect.

But as a candidate for Senate, Lake has flipped her position on the abortion law.

Lake came out against the Arizona Supreme Court’s abortion ruling earlier this month and called on the state’s Democratic governor and GOP-controlled Legislature to find an “immediate common sense solution.”

Two days after the ruling, Lake released a five-minute video explaining her stance. She declared that the “total ban on abortion” is “out of line” with where Arizonans are on the issue and said she supports exceptions for cases of rape and incest. She also actively lobbied state lawmakers to overturn the law, CNN previously reported.

Lake acknowledged during a campaign event in Scottsdale last week that she had a “little bit of a shift” in her stance on the abortion law but insisted she was “still pro-life.”

Lake’s comments against the abortion ban drew criticism from anti-abortion advocates. Steve Deace, an Iowa-based conservative talk show host, posted on X that he was “Just extremely disappointed” and argued that Lake is “almost completely unrecognizable” from when she ran for Arizona governor.

Lake is currently seen as the front-runner for the Republican nomination to succeed retiring independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in a race that could be critical to determining control of the Senate next year.

US Rep. Ruben Gallego, who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary, has criticized Lake over her prior support for the abortion ban and accused his likely general election opponent of flip-flopping on the issue for political advantage.

“Now, because she has seen the outrage and because she will lie and do whatever she can to win,” he told CNN’s Kaitlan Collin earlier this month, “she is basically flip-flopping on her position, but she cannot be trusted.”

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