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Kari Lake's stance on Arizona's 1864 abortion ban takes another baffling swerve

Republicans' constant flip-flopping and the GOP's larger inability to form a united front on abortion underscores a huge weakness: Donald Trump.


Arizona GOP Senate hopeful and potential Republican vice-presidential candidate Kari Lake has made conflicting statements about the state’s recently restored 1864 abortion ban. Having initially campaigned on behalf of its reinstatement and then suggesting it went too far after it was reinstated, Lake appears to have changed her mind about the ban yet again, lamenting in a recent interview that it was not being enforced.

"The Arizona Supreme Court said this is the law of Arizona. But unfortunately, the people running our state have said we’re not going to enforce it," Lake told the Idaho Dispatch on Saturday, alluding to Gov. Katie Hobbs' opposition to the ban and state Attorney General Kris Mayes' announcement that her office will not prosecute anyone under the law.

"So it's really political theater," Lake said. "We don't have that law, as much as many of us wish we did."

As recently as a few weeks ago, however, Lake was reportedly lobbying Arizona lawmakers to repeal the law, which she championed during her failed bid for governor in 2022. After the state Supreme Court's ruling, however, Lake publicly said that it was "out of line with where the people of this state are." (Lake’s Senate campaign did not respond to a request for clarification from NBC News.)

I've written about how the unpopularity of draconian abortion bans among voters has put Republicans in a bind. But the constant flip-flopping of individual politicians — alongside the party's larger inability to reach a consensus position on the issue — underscore how the GOP simply does not have a leader to whom they can turn to set a consistent or even coherent message on abortion rights.

As the presumptive GOP presidential nominee and the most powerful figure in conservative politics, Trump's erratic stance on abortion has seemed entirely dictated by the political winds. The former president has celebrated his role in nominating the Supreme Court justices who helped bring down Roe v. Wade. He has alternately disavowed extreme state abortion bans while sidestepping the substance of states' actions by declaring his support for "states' rights." In late March, he floated his support for a national 15-week abortion ban if elected again, only to backtrack completely just weeks later.

So it's not surprising that some of Trump's most loyal MAGA warriors are having trouble sticking to a position on abortion rights. Especially when Trump's own dizzying pivots on the issue make him appear entirely devoid of principle on the issue.