Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters backpedals push for total abortion bans

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Before winning the Republican nomination, Blake Masters said, 'Absolutely no abortions.'

Prior to winning Arizona's Republican Senate nomination, racist venture capitalist Blake Masters presented himself as "unapologetically" and "100%" against abortion from the moment of conception. Since winning the nomination, he has suggested that he would support a federal ban only on abortions performed later in pregnancy.

In an interview with the Arizona Republic published on Aug. 8, Masters, who is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in the general election, distanced himself from his previous support for a federal "personhood law," which would grant legal rights to a zygote from the moment of conception and ban virtually all abortions in the United States.

"The federal government should prohibit late-term abortion, third-trimester abortion and partial-birth abortion," he told the paper, using misleading and scientifically debunked terminology. "Below that, states are going to make different decisions that are going to reflect the will of the people in those states, and I think that's reasonable. I think that's what most people certainly in this state and nationwide are looking for. ... I would look to Arizona's (15-week) law and say I'm OK with it. I think it's a reasonable solution, which reflects where the electorate is."

A Masters campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

As of Tuesday, Masters' campaign website says that he supports "a federal personhood law (ideally a Constitutional amendment) that recognizes that unborn babies are human beings that may not be killed."

Throughout the primary, he repeatedly expressed his support for a national prohibition on abortions.

In a survey for its "iVoterGuide," the American Family Association, a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated right-wing hate group, asked Masters, "Under what circumstances should abortion be allowed?"

"I am 100% pro life and believe all children have the right to life," he responded.

He told the Center for Arizona Policy, another right-wing group, that supports "Prohibiting abortion except when it is necessary to prevent the death of the mother," adding the comment, "I am unapologetically PRO-LIFE."

During an August 2021 appearance before the Pima County Republican Club, Masters was asked his position on "the unborn, abortion." "I'm just unapologetically and unqualifiedly pro-life," he replied. "From conception?" his questioner asked. "From conception," Masters responded. He noted, "There's going to be disagreement about this issue in America, but for me, it's very clear."

A few months later, he was asked by conservative podcast host Allie Beth Stuckey about his stance on "abortion and pro-life legislation, kinda like the legislation that came out of Texas recently." He said yet again, "Yeah, I'm unapologetically pro-life. I think that's just obviously the correct position." He said that in deciding Roe v. Wade, which he said should be "repealed yesterday," the Supreme Court "invented some right to privacy out of thin air and then said somehow that covers abortion."

"I think the federal government has a role to play here. I think that Congress should have a debate and, you know, pick a certain point and say, No, we're gonna recognize, right here, federal personhood, and, you know, pass that. Absolutely no abortions," Masters said. As noted by HuffPost in May of this year, he claimed, "And now it's like you have activists wearing their shirts, you know, with tally marks on how many abortions they've had. And this is the cultural thrust of it. It's a religious sacrifice to these people. I think it's demonic and we've got to put a stop to it."

So-called "personhood" laws grant legal rights to fertilized eggs, zygotes, embryos, and fetuses, go far beyond banning later abortions. A federal judge issued a temporary injunction blocking Arizona's 2021 personhood law on the grounds that it was too vague to enforce.

HuffPost noted that in January, Masters criticized other Republicans for not supporting a total national ban, saying, "What good is actually winning elections if you don't do what you promised to do when you get in? ... I don't think it's enough to return it to the states."

The outlet reported that as recently as May, Masters told an audience in the town of Carefree, Arizona: "I think the 14th Amendment says you have the right to life, liberty and property. You can't deprive someone with that without due process. Hard to imagine a bigger deprivation of due process than killing a small child before they have a chance to take their first breath. So I think you do need a federal personhood law."

Masters has downplayed his prior positions more than once.

After a May report in the Arizona Mirror noted his website's endorsement for only appointing judges "who understand that Roe and Griswold and Casey were wrongly decided, and that there is no constitutional right to abortion," the reference to the landmark 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut Supreme Court ruling that established a right to contraception disappeared from the site, which now reads, "Vote only for federal judges who understand that Roe and Casey were wrongly decided, and that there is no constitutional right to abortion."

In June, Masters told the right-wing group FreedomWorks, "Maybe we should privatize Social Security, right? Private retirement accounts, get the government out of it."

But in the Aug. 8 Arizona Republic interview, he flatly contradicted that.

"I do not want to privatize Social Security," he claimed. "“I think, in context, I was talking about something very different. We can't change the system. We can't pull the rug out from seniors. I will never, ever support cutting Social Security."

Polls suggest Masters begins his general election race against Kelly several points behind. The race is considered a toss-up by election forecasters.

Kelly was endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice America in June.

The group's president Mini Timmaraju praised him for having "consistently advocated for reproductive freedom and fought back against restrictions on abortion access."

A nationwide survey of registered voters by the polling organization Navigator released on Aug. 11 found 80% believe abortion decisions "should be left to the woman and her doctor."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.