Kari Lake Wants Arizona Sheriffs to Enforce 1864 Abortion Ban

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Republican Senate candidate Kari Lake can’t seem to make up her mind. Does she believe that Arizona’s Civil War-era total ban on abortion is a “great law” and that abortion is “the ultimate sin,” as she said on the campaign trail in 2022? Or does she think that every woman should have “choices” when they get pregnant, as she insisted in a recent campaign video?

In the wake of a state Supreme Court decision re-animating the 1864 law that prohibits abortion at any point in pregnancy for any reason except to save the life of the mother, Lake initially issued a statement declaring it “abundantly clear that the pre-statehood law is out of step with Arizonans” views on abortion. She called on state officials “to come up with an immediate common sense solution.”

Attorney General Kris Mayes (D) had already offered one. The state’s top law enforcement officer announced her office would not enforce the ban, which snaps back into effect in June. The law declares anyone who “provides, supplies, or administers” an abortion be punished with up to five years in jail.

But, last weekend, Lake suggested county sheriffs should enforce the 1864 abortion ban: “We can have that law, but it’s not going to be enforced with the people we have in office,” Lake reportedly told the crowd at a Mohave County Republican Party event. “The only people who can enforce that law are our sheriffs. And we need to start asking the sheriffs if they’re willing to enforce that. I don’t think they are.” The comments were first reported by The Copper Courier.

Lake made these remarks just days after posting a video declaring, “A full ban on abortion is not where the people are.” In that same video, she said she wants to “make sure that every woman who finds herself pregnant has more choices,” adding that there must be exceptions made for rape and incest — exceptions the 1864 law does not contain.

Voters may have a chance to weigh in on the matter, but not until November, when a ballot measure that would protect the right to abortion until the point of fetal viability, around 24 weeks, is expected to appear on the ballot.

In the meantime, at least one county attorney has expressed interest in prosecuting people under the 1864 law. And there are undoubtedly some Arizona sheriffs that would be willing to answer Lake’s latest call. As the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting has written, the state has become “ground zero” for the so-called “constitutional sheriffs movement,” whose adherents are already becoming accustomed to picking and choosing which laws they want to enforce.

The movement, which more than half of the state’s sheriffs have aligned themselves with, according to ACIR, is premised on “a radical ideology that the sheriff’s power within his or her county is superseded by no state or federal government entity but is guided by the sheriff’s interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. Nullification, or refusing to enforce laws or mandates a sheriff deems unconstitutional, is a core part of the ideology.”

Earlier this week, the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association convened in Las Vegas for a training session that included talks by Trump associates Mike Flynn, Patrick Byrne and Mike Lindell.

At the same event, Lake told the crowd, “They’re going to come after us with everything. That’s why the next six months is going to be intense.” She went on to suggest supporters would need to “strap on” a “seatbelt,” a “helmet,” and “the armor of God,” before adding, “And maybe strap on a Glock on the side of us just in case.”

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