PolitiFact: Senate candidate Blake Masters backs 15-week Arizona abortion law with no rape, incest exceptions

New polls show a close race between the Democratic and Republican candidates running for...
New polls show a close race between the Democratic and Republican candidates running for Arizona Governor and the U.S. Senate seat.(Arizona's Family)
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 5:08 PM MST
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WASHINGTON (Politifact) - In an Arizona toss-up race that could determine which political party controls the U.S. Senate, a TV ad brands Republican candidate Blake Masters as an extremist on abortion.

Masters opposes abortion “even in the case of rape and incest,” says the ad.

It’s from two political action committees: VoteVets, a veterans advocacy group; and Senate Majority PAC, which works to elect Democrats to the Senate.

The ad features a speaker identified as Hillary, a U.S. Army veteran from Phoenix.

“My husband and I both served; he gave his life fighting for our freedom,” she says. “It’s offensive to see someone like Blake Masters talking about taking away our rights.”

The ad shows two clips of Masters. “Absolutely no abortions,” he says in one. “You make it illegal, you punish the doctors,” he says in the other.

Hillary continues: “No abortions, even in the case of rape and incest. That kind of extremism and government control is the opposite of what we fought for. It’s un-American. Blake Masters is wrong for Arizona and he’s wrong for America.”

The characterization of Masters’ abortion position is mostly on target, based on Masters’ record and statements.

Masters has supported a bill introduced Sept. 13 by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., that would impose a nationwide ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. That bill includes exceptions for rape and incest, though it would allow states to enact abortion laws that are more restrictive.

Masters also supports measures more restrictive than Graham’s federal bill.

Before his primary victory Aug. 3, Masters repeatedly stated support for a federal “personhood” law, which is often viewed as a complete or nearly complete ban on abortion, without exceptions. He has been vague, though, about at what point during a pregnancy such a law would apply.

And Masters supports a new Arizona law which will ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Senate Majority PAC cited to PolitiFact those measures to PolitiFact to back up the ad’s claims.

Masters softens personhood support

Before the August primary, Masters said on his campaign website that he would “support a federal personhood law, ideally a constitutional amendment, that recognizes that unborn babies are human beings that may not be killed.”

That language was scrubbed from the site Aug. 25, NBC News reported.

Masters softened his position after winning the nomination, saying he would back a personhood law that would ban abortion nationally during the third trimester of pregnancy, which begins with the 27th week.

However, Masters has also said his shifts did not mean he was abandoning prior positions.

“It’s funny, because you change one thing about the website and the media pounces. … I tweak my stump speech week over week, too, but no, I don’t run from or hide from anything I’ve said,” he told Arizona radio station KTAR on Sept. 8.

“If we change something from time to time, that just reflects a new way that we’re talking about something, but it’s not a backtrack or anything like that.”

Arizona banning rape, incest exceptions

Masters’ campaign website states that he believes Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision guaranteeing abortion rights nationally, was a bad decision. (The court overturned Roe on June 24.)

The site also said Masters supports abortion laws being decided by states. “I am hopeful we’ll soon see a slate of new laws that respect and promote life — the lives of both the mother and the child,” the site says.

Arizona is attempting to enact much stricter abortion laws or even a ban, using either an old law or the new one.

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office asked a court to allow a 1901 law that bans abortion, with no exceptions for rape or incest, to take effect. A ruling is expected after Sept. 20.

Meanwhile, Gov. Doug Ducey signed a law that will take effect Sept. 24 that criminalizes performing an abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The governor says the law he signed would supersede the 1901 law, but the state’s Republican attorney general, Mark Brnovich, has said the 1901 law is enforceable.

Masters said he does not support the 1901 law, but does support the new law.

Asked to respond to the ad, Masters campaign spokesperson Katie Miller pointed us to an Aug. 16 article from Phoenix TV station KPNX. It said a proposed federal personhood law that Masters supports, which bans abortion in the third trimester, does not have a rape and incest exception.

Miller noted that Arizona’s new law allows abortion for any reason through 15 weeks. She also argued that Masters has always supported rape and incest exceptions, but cited no statements from him to support this.

In Arizona, 94.8% of abortions performed in 2019 were done at 15 weeks of gestation or earlier, according to the latest figures from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationally, the figure was 95.7%.

Our ruling

VoteVets and the Democratic Senate Majority PAC said Masters opposes abortion “even in the case of rape and incest.”

Masters supports an Arizona law, set to take effect Sept. 24, that allows abortion for any reason through 15 weeks of pregnancy but bans abortion after that, with no exceptions for rape or incest.

He also supports a federal personhood law, which is generally viewed as complete or nearly complete ban on abortion.

We found no statements from Masters of support for rape and incest exceptions.

We rate the statement Mostly True.