Republican Running for Arizona Governor Accidentally Said Abortion Should Be Legal

Abortion is currently banned in Arizona, but Kari Lake said it should "rare and legal." Oops!

Republican Running for Arizona Governor Accidentally Said Abortion Should Be Legal
Arizona Republican candidate for governor Kari Lake and former President Donald Trump in July. Photo:Ross D. Franklin (AP)

You may know Kari Lake—the Donald Trump-endorsed Republican nominee for governor in Arizona and 2020 election denier—as the person who single-handedly killed the expression “BDE.” Now she’s also become the GOP candidate who accidentally said that abortion should be legal.

During a Tuesday interview on KTAR radio, host Mike Broomhead asked Lake about exceptions for rape and incest, and she responded with a ridiculous non-answer that contained the oopsie: “It would be really wonderful if abortion was rare and legal—the way they said it before, remember? Rare but safe, rare but safe, I think is what they said,” Lake said. “It’d be really wonderful if that’s how it turned out. But that’s not what they want, Mike. They don’t want rare but safe.”

A federal judge recently ruled that an Arizona abortion ban from 1901—more than a decade before it became a state—can take effect. The ban criminalizes doctors who perform any abortion unless it’s necessary to save the pregnant person’s life.

A spokesperson for Lake told the Associated Press on Wednesday that she didn’t mean to say abortion should be legal and that she wasn’t calling for changes to the state’s abortion laws, which is an objectively hilarious statement for a Republican campaign to have to give.

“It went from rare and legal to an abortion right up until a baby’s born,” Lake said during the interview—using the L word for a second time and citing disinformation. “That’s not right. And now they want to make somebody who is pro-life seem like they’re radical. I’m not radical. We’re not radical for being pro-life…I’m not afraid to stand up and say I’m pro-life.” (Actually, Kari, the government endangering people’s health and forcing people to give birth against their will are radical policies. Hope this helps!)

Lake was obviously trying to reference Bill Clinton’s famous line from the 1990s that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare”—a line that advocates no longer use because it’s stigmatizing, and also because self-managed abortions with pills can be very safe, even in states where abortion is banned. Pro-choice Democrats now overwhelmingly believe that politicians have no place in reproductive healthcare, but Lake doesn’t want to discuss that—she’d rather reference talking points from three decades ago.

Six in 10 registered Arizona voters say abortion should be legal in most cases, and Lake is currently polling neck-and-neck with pro-choice Democratic nominee Katie Hobbs.

It’s noteworthy, then, that Lake failed to say in the interview whether she supports the 1901 law or, instead, the 15-week ban that current Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed earlier this year. “I want to see where this goes,” she said. “I don’t know right now. I’m confused. We appear to have two laws, and there seems to be some controversy in which law it’s going to be.” (Her fellow Arizona Republican Blake Masters, who is running for Senate, recently deleted from his website that he supported fetal personhood, which would ban abortion nationwide, and replaced it with support for banning abortions later in pregnancy.)

In addition to her not meaning to say “legal,” Lake’s spokesperson, Ross Trumble, told the AP that either the total ban or the 15-week law would fit Lake’s definition of abortion being “rare but safe.”

“‘Rare but safe’ would apply to whatever the current law is interpreted to mean,” Trumble said.

It seems difficult to be both hardline and wishy-washy, but that appears to be Lake’s whole deal. That, or she supports a total abortion ban but is too chickenshit to say so five weeks before Election Day, given that voters have said abortion rights are a top issue this year.

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