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Kari Lake lobbies Arizona lawmakers to overturn abortion ban she once supported

By Steve Contorno and Alayna Treene, CNN

(CNN) — Arizona Republican Senate candidate Kari Lake is actively lobbying state lawmakers to overturn a 160-year-old law she once supported that bans abortion in almost all cases, a source with knowledge of her efforts told CNN.

Lake is pushing for GOP lawmakers in her home state to repeal the law while leaving in place legislation signed in 2022 by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey that would restrict abortion to within the first 15 weeks of a pregnancy. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the state must adhere to the Civil War-era law, which bans all abortions “except those necessary to save a woman’s life.”

“Lake has called state legislators and offered her help and support for what they need to overturn the territorial law so it reverts back to the 15-week Ducey law,” the source said.

The move continues a remarkable 180-degree flip by Lake on the state abortion law and illustrates Republican concerns over how the issue is reverberating through a key battleground state.

As a candidate for governor in 2022, Lake called the 1864 law “great” and said she would support the court’s decision on whether to implement it.

“I think we’re going to be setting, paving the way and setting course for other states to follow,” Lake said at the time.

But Lake changed her stance Tuesday following the Arizona Supreme Court ruling and called on the state’s Democratic governor and GOP-controlled Legislature “to come up with an immediate common sense solution that Arizonans can support.”

Her sharp pivot has aligned her with her close ally, former President Donald Trump, who has also undergone an election-year shift on abortion. In a statement Monday, Trump said that the future of abortion access in the United States should be determined by the states, leaving in place the status quo created when the US Supreme Court, led by his three handpicked justices, ended the federal right to an abortion.

Yet, Arizona’s ruling forced Trump to quickly confront the implications of that position, and on Wednesday, the former president sought to distance himself from the reality he helped create, suggesting that the Arizona law would be “straightened out.”

“I’m sure the governor and everyone else are going to bring it back into reason and that will be taken care of, I think, very quickly,” he said. “Arizona is going to definitely change. Everybody wants that to happen.”

Hours later, Arizona Republican lawmakers thwarted an attempt to vote on repealing the state’s law. According to The Arizona Republic, state Rep. Matt Gress attempted to initiate a vote that would repeal the law before fellow GOP state Rep. David Livingston cut him short with a motion to recess. Gress told the publication he voted against the motion to recess.

Democrats in the state House began to protest as Republicans left the chamber after successfully blocking the effort to bring the repeal bill to a vote, the newspaper reported.

Marcus Dell’Artino, a Republican strategist in Arizona, said he was skeptical that the anti-abortion hard-liners in the state Legislature – who have celebrated the court’s decision – would be amenable to lobbying from Lake or even Trump.

“I’m not sure how you get them to reverse their position just by making a phone call,” he said. “I cannot mathematically figure out how they will get the votes.”

The Arizona Supreme Court ruling has become a flashpoint in the state’s ongoing battle over the future of abortion access with potentially massive political implications. The Grand Canyon State is a key battleground this year in the fight for control of the Senate and the White House.

Democrats have rallied to remind voters in the state that the ruling was only made possible by the US Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade – an outcome orchestrated and celebrated by Trump.

CNN’s Melissa Alonso contributed to this report.

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