AZ GOP governor hopeful Lake called a near-total abortion ban law ‘great’

(Arizona's Family)
Published: Oct. 12, 2022 at 3:35 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WASHINGTON (Politifact) - With abortion as a driving issue in the midterm elections, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Arizona, Katie Hobbs, highlighted the gulf between her and her Republican opponent, Kari Lake.

In back-to-back interviews Oct. 9 on CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” the candidates exchanged barbs. Lake said Hobbs would allow a woman in labor to have an abortion, simply because she “desired” it. Hobbs fired back, saying Lake was “entirely misconstruing” her position.

“A doctor’s not going to perform an abortion late in a pregnancy just because somebody decided they want one — that is ridiculous,” Hobbs said Oct. 9. “Late-term abortion is extremely rare. And if it’s being talked about, it’s because something has gone incredibly wrong in a pregnancy.”

Hobbs went on to say Lake backed the strictest of limits on abortion.

“She’s gone on the record saying she supports Arizona’s complete abortion ban,” Hobbs said. “She’s called it a ‘great law.’”

Hobbs was referring to an Arizona abortion law that dates back to 1864 and that lawmakers carried over into a revised state code in 1901. The law was revived after the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24 overturned Roe v. Wade, the nearly 50-year-old case that established federally protected access to abortion.

Lake opposes abortion. Here, we examine whether she called a law passed even before Arizona became a state in 1912, a “great law.”

A key interview

Hobbs’ campaign pointed us to a June 24 interview Lake gave on “The Conservative Circus with James T. Harris,” a radio show and podcast. At 3:48 into the interview, Lake reacted to the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe. (In the Arizona code, the 1901 law is numbered 13-3603.)

“I’m incredibly thrilled that we are going to have a great law that’s already on the books,” Lake said. “I believe it’s ARS 13-3603, so it will prohibit abortion in Arizona except to save the life of a mother. And I think we’re going to be paving the way and setting course for other states to follow.”

The law makes it illegal to induce a woman to miscarry, “unless it is necessary to save her life.” Violators would face two to five years in prison.

Arizona’s Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich said he would enforce the law.

“ARS 13-3603 is back in effect,” Brnovich tweeted June 29.

The law, however, is in limbo. A state judge ruled it could be enforced; an appeals court reversed that decision. Arizona already has a law banning abortions after 15 weeks, except to save the mother’s life.

In a June 29 Republican primary debate, Lake said she believes life begins at conception and that abortion pills should be illegal. In an Oct. 4 interview on Phoenix radio station KTAR, Lake muddied the waters, saying, “It would be really wonderful if abortion was rare and legal. Rare but safe, I think they said.”

(Bill Clinton coined the phrase “safe, legal and rare,” when talking about abortion access during his 1992 campaign for president.)

In her October “Face the Nation” interview, Lake said she supports the legislation that allows abortions up to 15 weeks and seeks no change in that state law.

Lake’s campaign did not respond to our query.

Our ruling

Hobbs said Lake has “gone on the record saying she supports Arizona’s complete abortion ban. She’s called it a great law.”

In an interview, Lake said she was “thrilled that we are going to have a great law that’s already on the books,” and identified the law by number. The law bans all abortions except to save the mother’s life. That is a significant but not “complete” abortion ban.

We rate this claim Mostly True.