Arizona Republicans Back Away From Unborn After Court Ruling

Arizona Republicans Back Away From Unborn After Court Ruling

A number of Arizona Republicans are rapidly distancing from the state’s controversial Supreme Court ruling protecting almost all unborn babies from abortions.

The state Supreme Court upheld a 1864 law on Tuesday that bans almost all abortions in Arizona, except when the mother’s life is at risk. In a 4-to-2 decision, the court said that the law is “now enforceable,” though it will likely not go until effect for a number of weeks.

Though Arizona has a law protecting unborn babies after 15 weeks, Arizona’s Democrat governor Katie Hobbs signed an executive order in 2023 giving the state’s Democrat attorney general the power to enforce abortion laws. That attorney general, Kris Mayes, promised not to enforce any protections for the unborn and to “fight like hell” to protect abortions in the state.

News of the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision was celebrated by pro-life groups like Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, but it prompted outcry from some Arizona Republicans who had formerly expressed desires to protect as many unborn lives as they could.

Senate candidate Kari Lake, who had previously drawn praise from pro-life groups for her staunch defense of life and exposure of Democratic abortion extremism, announced on Tuesday that she not only believes the old law is “out of step with Arizonians,” but she also wants Hobbs and the state legislature “to come up with an immediate common sense solution that Arizonans can support.”

“Ultimately,” she said in a statement wherein she promised to oppose a federal ban on abortion, “Arizona voters will make the decision on the ballot come November.”

Lake, during remarks delivered at the American Leadership Forum in 2022, had previously referred to a “great law” that Arizona had “on the books” as she discussed her hope that Roe v. Wade would soon be overturned.

“If that happens, we will be a state where we will not be taking the lives of our unborn anymore,” she said at the time.

Her campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.

The state’s former Republican governor, Doug Ducey, issued a similar statement calling on the state lawmakers to “heed the will” of the people.

“I signed the 15-week law as governor because it is thoughtful conservative policy, and an approach to this very sensitive issue that Arizonans can actually agree on,” he said. “The ruling today is not the outcome I would have preferred, and I call on our elected leaders to heed the will of the people and address this issue with a policy that is workable and reflective of our electorate.”

Republican Arizona Rep. David Schweikert, one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the state, has publicly expressed gratitude to his mother for choosing last minute not to abort him. He similarly voiced his disapproval of the ruling on Tuesday.

“I do not support today’s ruling from the AZ Supreme Court,” he said Tuesday in an “X” post. “This issue should be decided by Arizonans, not legislated from the bench. I encourage the state legislature to address this issue immediately.”

The congressman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Republican Arizona Rep. Juan Ciscomani, who has described himself as strongly pro-life and supportive of exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother, called the ruling a “disaster for women and providers,” insisting that the state’s 15-week-protections for the unborn “protected the rights of women and new life.”

“It respected women and the difficult decision of ending a pregnancy—one I will never personally experience and won’t pretend to understand,” he continued. “As my record shows, I’m a strong supporter of empowering women to make their own healthcare choices and I oppose a national abortion ban.”

Ciscomani similarly did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a statement celebrating the overturn of Roe v. Wade in June 2022, Ciscomani had said that he “will always defend life as a member of Congress.”

“As a husband and a father, I believe that life is precious, and as a country, we must protect women and children in every way possible,” he said at the time.

The slew of statements follow former President Donald Trump’s Monday announcement that each state should follow “the will of the people” and pass state-specific laws on abortion.   

“My view is now that we have abortion where everybody wanted it from a legal standpoint, the states will determine by vote or legislation, or perhaps both, and whatever they decide must be the law of the land, in this case, the law of the state,” Trump said in a video posted Monday morning on Truth Social.  

Trump’s position on abortion was unclear heading into the election, though the former president appointed three Supreme Court justices who ultimately made it possible to overturn Roe v. Wade in June 2022 by a majority vote — Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.

“I want to thank the six justices: Chief Justice John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and Neil Gorsuch,” Trump said. He called them “incredible people, for having the courage to allow this long-term, hard-fought battle to finally end.”

“This 50-year battle over Roe v. Wade took it out of the federal hands and brought it into the hearts, minds, and vote of the people at each state,” Trump added. “Now it’s up to the states to do the right thing.” 

Further clarifying his view on abortion, he said he supports “exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.”

“You must follow your heart on this issue, but remember, you must also win elections to restore our culture and in fact to save our country, which is currently and very sadly a nation in decline,” he added.

Trump also criticized Democrats’ extreme abortion positions in his remarks, saying: “Democrats are the radical ones in this position, because they support abortion up to and even beyond the ninth month. The concept of having an abortion in the later months and even execution after birth—and that’s exactly what it is, the baby is born, the baby is executed after birth—is unacceptable, and almost everyone agrees with that.” 

Virginia Allen contributed to this report.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.