Kari Lake Backs G.O.P. Effort to Drop 1864 Abortion Law in Favor of 15-Week Ban

A handful of Arizona Republican legislators looking to overturn a 160-year-old state law that bans nearly all abortions have a new high-profile supporter: Kari Lake, a prominent Senate candidate and a close ally of Donald J. Trump.

The state Supreme Court’s ruling on Tuesday that upheld the 1864 law, from before Arizona was a state, set off a political firestorm, with Democrats predicting it would cause women to turn out in droves in a key swing state to protect access to abortion rights.

Now, some Republicans are looking for a way out of their political dilemma after their party blocked efforts to reverse the law. They see Ms. Lake, who is in a competitive race that could determine control of the Senate, as an important ally. Ms. Lake has called a handful of state legislators to offer her support in any effort to repeal the law and revert to the 15-week abortion ban that was in effect in Arizona, according to a person familiar with the outreach.

The new stance is an abrupt about-face for many Arizona Republicans, who cheered when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022 and then pushed quickly for reinstating the near-total ban from 1864. Ms. Lake herself had praised the 160-year-old ban during her 2022 run for governor, calling it a “great law,” but on Tuesday condemned the court decision, saying it was “out of step with Arizonans.”

Other Republicans followed suit.

“It is time for my legislative colleagues to find common ground of common sense: the first step is to repeal the territorial law,” State Senator Shawnna Bolick posted on X. It was a departure for Ms. Bolick, who once signed onto a law that would require prosecutors to charge women who have abortions with homicide and voted for the 15-week ban in 2022, legislation that included a provision allowing the 1864 law to go into effect.

The Republican backtracking reflects just how sharply public opinion has shifted on abortion since the Supreme Court’s consequential ruling, and how damaging the issue has been to their party. State laws on abortion enacted since Roe was overturned fueled strong showings by Democratic candidates in the 2022 midterms, and voters have turned out in force to protect abortion rights when they have been on the ballot, even in red states.

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