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Republican offers new twist on abortion exceptions as issue stays at forefront of Kentucky campaign

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Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron responds to a question during the Gubernatorial Forum at the 2023 Kentucky Chamber of Commerce annual meeting dinner in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 20, 2023. The complexities of abortion-related politics in the post-Roe v. Wade era continue to put the squeeze on Cameron, who appeared to redefine his position on Kentucky's strict anti-abortion law for the second time in two weeks while campaigning for governor. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The complexities of abortion-related politics within the post-Roe v. Wade period proceed to place the squeeze on Republican Daniel Cameron, who appeared to redefine his place on Kentucky’s strict anti-abortion regulation for the second time in two weeks whereas campaigning for governor.

After revealing final week that he would signal laws including rape and incest exceptions to the state’s abortion ban, Cameron appeared to take a extra hardline stance Wednesday. He did so whereas making an attempt to reassure somebody who claimed to be involved that he was weakening his anti-abortion place. Cameron indicated that he would help such exceptions “if the courts made us change that regulation.”

“My level was that … we’re in a struggle with the courts proper now,” Cameron mentioned in an audio recording of the dialog throughout a marketing campaign cease in London, Kentucky. “And so if the courts have been to strike down and say that we wanted so as to add (exceptions), in fact I might signal that as a result of I nonetheless need to defend life. However that might simply be primarily based on if our courts made that change; it wouldn’t be me, proactively.”

Democrats pounced on the feedback, saying it bolstered Cameron’s longtime help for the sweeping abortion ban. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s marketing campaign has run TV adverts linking Cameron to the ban and pointing to its penalties for younger victims of rape or incest pressured to hold their pregnancies to time period.

“The rationale he twists himself into knots on solutions like it is because he is aware of the overwhelming majority of Kentuckians discover his view merciless and harmful,” Beshear marketing campaign spokesman Alex Floyd mentioned.

After the audio recording surfaced Wednesday, Cameron’s marketing campaign reiterated that he helps the present abortion regulation whereas including that if the legislature despatched him a invoice with exceptions, he would signal it. The marketing campaign didn’t push again on the authenticity of the recording.

Beshear has gone on offense on a difficulty that anti-abortion Republicans lengthy claimed as theirs on this largely conservative state. The Beshear-Cameron showdown is without doubt one of the nation’s most intently watched elections in 2023, a 12 months earlier than the nation decides management of the White Home and Congress. Cameron is the state’s lawyer normal whereas Beshear is in search of a second time period as governor within the GOP-leaning state.

Cameron’s feedback Wednesday got here after the unidentified individual expressed concern that he had “wavered slightly bit on protections for all times.” Cameron replied that he helps the present regulation, which bans all abortions besides when carried out to avoid wasting a pregnant lady’s life or to stop a disabling harm.

Throughout a GOP major debate in March, Cameron expressed help for the abortion regulation as written. And as lawyer normal, his workplace has defended the near-total abortion ban in court docket.

Cameron’s feedback on the marketing campaign occasion Wednesday appeared to fulfill the one who raised the problem, primarily based on the recording. The way it performs out statewide is one other query.

Because the marketing campaign heads into its remaining weeks, Cameron has appeared to attempt to mollify each abortion hardliners and average voters who help exceptions to the abortion regulation. It’s a sign that Cameron and his crew are having “some issue determining what they need to do with this challenge” within the broader normal election marketing campaign, Kentucky political commentator Al Cross mentioned Thursday.

“Folks don’t like uncertainty,” Cross mentioned. “They need to know the place a candidate stands. And most of the people favor rape and incest exceptions.”

Final 12 months, Kentucky voters defeated a poll measure aimed toward denying any constitutional protections for abortion. Because the U.S. Supreme Courtroom overturned Roe v. Wade, voters in a number of states have protected abortion rights through poll measures.

A lingering query has been whether or not Cameron would push the GOP-dominated legislature to create abortion exceptions. Together with his feedback Wednesday, “he’s making clear that he’s not,” Cross mentioned.

Beshear has known as the state’s abortion ban an extremist regulation that he says the “overwhelming majority” of Kentuckians disagree with, pointing to the shortage of exceptions for rape and incest.

Amid the fallout from the Wednesday recording, Cameron’s marketing campaign tried to shift the main focus to Beshear’s stance as an abortion-rights supporter, saying: “Voters must be given extra readability on what week Andy Beshear would defend the unborn?”

Beshear’s marketing campaign responded Thursday that the governor “has at all times supported cheap restrictions, particularly on late-term procedures.”

Final 12 months, Beshear vetoed a invoice that included a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of being pregnant. Beshear famous on the time that the measure lacked exceptions for pregnancies attributable to rape or incest. His veto was overridden by lawmakers. As soon as Roe v. Wade was overturned final 12 months, the state’s so-called set off regulation — handed in 2019 — took impact to ban almost all abortions in Kentucky.

A invoice to permit rape and incest exceptions made no headway in Kentucky’s legislature this 12 months. The continuing debate factors to Cameron’s political challenges amid the brand new dynamics of abortion policymaking.

“It’s extremely tough to satisfy the litmus check of being pro-life sufficient to win the sort of endorsements that you might want to win as a Republican major candidate, after which having a place that’s palatable sufficient to a higher swath of the voters,” GOP political marketing consultant T.J. Litafik mentioned Thursday.

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