These candidates for governor could decide the future of Arizona abortion law. Where do they stand?

Candidates for governor of Arizona pose for a group photo before a forum with candidates for the governor of Arizona hosted by National Association of Women Business Owners at the Esplanade on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, in Phoenix.
Stacey Barchenger
Arizona Republic

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling Friday leaves it up to states to set law on when women can obtain abortions. That means the governor Arizonans elect this year will have the deciding vote on any future policy changes lawmakers put forward.

In light of the top court's precedent-altering decision, and the power of the governor's signature or veto, The Arizona Republic asked each candidate for governor to weigh in on an existing conflict in state law and when they think abortion should be available, if at all. 

Arizona has a pre-statehood ban on the books, which subjects doctors who perform abortions to criminal penalties except when the mother's life is in jeopardy.

Earlier this year, outgoing Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill into law banning abortions after 15 weeks except in medical emergencies and has no exceptions for victims of rape or incest.

Which of those laws prevails is likely to be determined in coming months by legal challenges, but already the uncertainty alone caused nearly all providers in Arizona to stop services Friday.

Here are the questions we asked each Republican and Democratic candidate for governor:

Arizona has conflicting laws on the books when it comes to abortion. Which law do you want to see go into effect? 

SCOTUS left it up to states to determine law on abortion. What do you believe should be the state law on abortions?  

Specifically, at what stage of a pregnancy should women be able to obtain abortion, if at all? And, in what circumstances would you support exceptions? 

Here's what candidates for governor told The Republic. (We've edited out only their attacks on other candidates so it didn't distract from their own views.)

Karrin Taylor Robson, Republican

Taylor Robson provided a single statement in response:

“Let me be clear: I am a practicing Catholic and believe life begins at conception. ... The abortion prohibition approved by Republican legislators and signed into law by Gov. Ducey this year is appropriate." 

"As Governor, I will continually look for opportunities to ensure Arizona is among the strongest Pro-Life states in the country. Because I believe being Pro-Life is consistent with being Pro-Woman, I also look forward to modeling a culture of Life in which our state cares as much about the woman as her unborn child, and we must do everything possible to make sure every pregnant woman in crisis is made aware of non-violent alternatives available to them.”

Matt Salmon, Republican

Salmon provided a single statement in response:

“The 15-week abortion ban signed earlier this year was a legislative fail-safe that I was proud to endorse. Luckily, today’s ruling went our way. I support the law we had on the books before Roe v. Wade was decided, which states that no abortion in Arizona is legal except to save the life of the mother, because I believe that it will save the most babies’ lives.”

Paola Tulliani Zen, Republican

Tulliani Zen responded with a broad statement:

"My belief is that life begins at conception and that every life is valuable and has a purpose. I would support a total ban on abortion."

Kari Lake, Republican

Declined to comment on the conflicting laws, citing uncertainty and the likely court challenge to settle conflicting laws.

"Kari is pro-life but supports exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother," the campaign said in a statement.

Scott Neely, Republican

Neely's statement:

"Exceptions should be rare and for medical reasons only. The morning after pill can stop the need for abortions to ever take place. Be responsible when deciding to have sex and let's save baby lives together shall we.

"I am pro life and always will be."

Marco Lopez, Democrat

Arizona has conflicting laws on the books when it comes to abortion. Which law do you want to see go into effect?

"Both the century-old abortion ban, and the 15-week ban signed into law by Gov. Ducey in March with no exception for rape or incest, are absolute travesties. As governor I will stand firmly against these continued attacks on women and families and make it clear that I unequivocally support reproductive rights. Eight out of 10 Arizonans are pro-choice, so it’s incumbent upon us to make their representatives listen, no matter what side of the aisle they’re on. I will also fight to enshrine reproductive rights into our state constitution with a citizen’s initiative, because I trust women to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions."

What do you believe should be the state law on abortion?  

"I oppose any abortion restriction that will endanger and punish women. Looking at any proposed restriction, I’d want to know: Does it reflect evidence-based medical best practices or does it recklessly take personal medical decisions in complicated situations out of the hands of women, families and their doctors?"

Katie Hobbs, Democrat

Arizona has conflicting laws on the books when it comes to abortion. Which law do you want to see go into effect?

"Neither. I’ve called on Gov. Ducey to repeal the ridiculous 1901 law. Both of these extreme measures are especially going to hurt people who already face huge barriers to care. Outlawing abortions isn’t going to stop women from seeking abortions – it only pushes women into a corner and forces them to seek unsafe and dangerous alternatives. The Supreme Court may have turned its back on women, but I never will. As governor, I would veto any bills attacking reproductive rights."  

SCOTUS left it up to states to determine law on abortion. What do you believe should be the state law on abortion?  

"As governor, I will fight to repeal the draconian abortion bans Arizona has in place and fight for access to safe and legal abortion, reproductive health care and planning services, sex education, and family support."

Specifically, at what stage of a pregnancy should women be able to obtain abortion? And, in what circumstances would you support exceptions?

"This is a deeply personal decision and should be made between a woman and her doctor, not the government or politicians, period."

Reach reporter Stacey Barchenger at stacey.barchenger@arizonarepublic.com or 480-416-5669. Follow her on Twitter @sbarchenger.