Kentucky GOP Candidate Responds to Rape Survivor Who Called Him Out. It Didn’t Go Well.

"I just want to know why [Daniel Cameron] feels so entitled to force victims who have stories like mine to carry a baby of their rapist?" said Hadley Duvall.

Kentucky GOP Candidate Responds to Rape Survivor Who Called Him Out. It Didn’t Go Well.
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Kentucky attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Daniel Cameron (R) attempted to express sympathy this week for a rape survivor who called him out for his stance on exceptions to abortion bans in a TV ad for his opponent. (Cameron does not support adding them to the state’s near-total ban.) But Cameron’s attempt to sound caring was quickly overshadowed when he said his plan to address people pregnant from rape is to simply keep abortion banned but jail the rapists. The survivor then slammed Cameron again in comments to a reporter.

Cameron is running against the popular incumbent Gov. Andy Beshear (D). The election is on November 7, and Cameron seems desperate to revive his campaign in these final weeks as polls show him down by as much as 16 points. On September 18, he reversed his position on adding exceptions for rape and incest to the state’s abortion ban from no to yes, if the legislature passed a bill. Mind you, this is little more than a hypothetical. A bill to add these exceptions went nowhere during the last legislative session.

Days after that flip-flop, the Beshear campaign released an ad highlighting Cameron’s long-held position. The statewide TV ad featured Hadley Duvall, a 21-year-old from Owensboro, Kentucky, who said on camera that her stepfather raped her at age 12. (She became pregnant and later miscarried). Duvall then critiqued the lack of exceptions in the state’s abortion ban, before addressing the GOP nominee. “This is to you, Daniel Cameron. To tell a 12-year-old girl she must have the baby of her stepfather who raped her is unthinkable,” she said. “I’m speaking out because women and girls need to have options. Daniel Cameron would give us none.”

On Tuesday, Cameron did a live interview with Spectrum News; Beshear was invited but didn’t participate. The host asked him to clarify where he stood on exceptions for rape and incest. Cameron responded by acting like his tepid support of exceptions wasn’t brand new: “What I’ve said is that if something were to happen and the law was required to be changed and we had to have additional exceptions, I would certainly sign those exceptions.”

Then Cameron brought up Duvall’s ad on his own, without using her name, and said he believes he has “a responsibility to protect the unborn” and that the correct thing to do in these situations is to arrest rapists.

Here’s his comment, from Spectrum News (they begin at around 3:45):

I cannot comprehend just how traumatic that experience was for her. And my heart goes out to her, and I want her to know that. But when it comes to the issue of life, look, this is a delicate issue.
I was at church a couple of weeks ago, and our pastor talked about on this issue in particular, we need to speak gently and kindly because it is such a sensitive issue and there are a range of different viewpoints on the question of life. Mine happens to evolve from my position on faith and my relationship with Christ, and I think, as a person of faith, I have a responsibility to protect the unborn.”
But our Bible also talks about, that if anyone should harm one of our children, or cause them to stumble, then it would better for that person to have a millstone around their neck and to be thrown into the sea to drown.
And I think that, if someone harms a child, if someone sexually assaults a child, and then we need to put them [in] jail. And as Attorney General and as the next governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, I’m going to make that abundantly clear, that we won’t tolerate adults who take advantage of and abuse our minors.”

Associated Press asked Duvall what she thought of Cameron’s interview and she was unsparing. “Daniel Cameron said himself that he cannot comprehend how traumatic the experience was for me. And he’s right,” she said Wednesday. “So I just want to know why he feels so entitled to force victims who have stories like mine to carry a baby of their rapist? It should be their choice.”

Now, we must note that exceptions to abortion bans are often meaningless in practice—whether they’re for rape or incest, or for medical emergencies—and bans just simply shouldn’t exist. But the Supreme Court overturned Roe and here we are.

The Beshear campaign has been hitting Cameron repeatedly for his stance on exceptions, and his long anti-abortion record. A previous statewide ad on abortion showed a prosecutor talking about young rape survivors being forced to give birth. Since Cameron won the Republican primary in May, he has seemed to downplay his opposition to abortion and instead focus on things like crime rates and transgender kids—a likely recognition that his stance on abortion is a political loser.

An Emerson College poll released today shows Beshear up over Cameron by a whopping 16 points. But polls don’t vote, people do.

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