Cameron shifts on abortion stance

Published 3:29 pm Monday, September 25, 2023

By McKenna Horsley

Kentucky Lantern

Republican gubernatorial candidate Daniel Cameron on Monday said he would sign legislation allowing exceptions to Kentucky’s near-total abortion ban in cases of rape and incest — signaling a departure from his past comments on the law.

Cameron, Kentucky’s attorney general, said in an  interview on the Tony & Dwight show on NewsRadio 840 WHAS that he would sign legislation that provided exceptions in cases of rape and incest if the General Assembly approved  it.

“If our legislature was to bring legislation before me that provided exceptions for rape and incest, I would sign that legislation,” Cameron said. “There’s no question about that.”

It’s the first time Cameron has publicly expressed support for changing the Kentucky abortion ban by adding any exceptions.

During a Republican primary debate held in Louisville earlier this year, Cameron was among candidates who signaled support for Kentucky’s current law, which bans abortions up to six weeks of pregnancy. His office has also defended the law in court.

The Kentucky attorney general’s website says: “General Cameron is a fearless advocate for the unborn because every life is worth protecting. Inside the courtroom and outside of it, Daniel Cameron is the tip of the spear in the fight to preserve a pro-life Kentucky.”

The trigger law, also called the Human Life Protection Act, went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year. The law makes no exception for pregnancies resulting from rape, incest or in cases of serious fetal abnormality. It does require doctors to “make reasonable medical efforts under the circumstances to preserve both the life of the mother and the life of the unborn child ‘in a manner consistent with reasonable practice,’” a 2022 advisory opinion from the Cameron’s office said.

Last November Kentucky voters defeated an anti-abortion constitutional amendment.

When asked for clarification of Cameron’s latest comments and if he continued to support the law as it is, his campaign provided a statement calling Cameron “the pro-life candidate” in the race and saying that he “supports the Human Life Protection Act.”

“But if the situation in Kentucky were to change and the legislature brought him a bill to add exceptions for rape and incest, he would, of course, sign it,” the statement said.

The Cameron campaign called Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear “an extremist” on abortion but  did not indicate if Cameron would urge Republican lawmakers to add exceptions.

A spokesperson for the Beshear campaign, Alex Floyd, issued this statement: “Throughout his time in office, even before this campaign began, Daniel Cameron has made it clear that he supports Kentucky’s extreme abortion ban with no exceptions for survivors of rape or incest. He has repeated that position in public statements, questionnaires, press interviews, and debates. As attorney general, Cameron repeatedly defended this extreme law with its lack of exceptions in front of multiple courts, including the Kentucky Supreme Court. Either recent polling numbers have changed Cameron’s core beliefs, or he is lying to Kentuckians now that he is seven weeks from an election.”

Also on the radio show, Cameron pushed back at an attack ad from Beshear’s campaign, criticizing Cameron’s stance on abortion. The ad, released two weeks ago, features a Jefferson County prosecutor who claims that Cameron believes nine-year-old rape victims “should be forced to give birth.”

Nine was the age of the two youngest abortion recipients in Kentucky in 2021 and last year before the procedure was all but outlawed, Deborah Yetter reported, based on state records. In 2021 in Kentucky, 34 girls ages 15 or younger received abortions,

Cameron chalked the Beshear ad up to a “smear campaign,” but reiterated that he supports “a culture of life.”

Beshear has said Kentucky’s abortion ban should be amended to include expections for rape and incest. In a December interview with the Kentucky Lantern, he said the Republican-dominated General Assembly had “given rapists more rights than their victims.”

Republican House Whip Jason Nemes proposed a bill in the last legislative session that would allow exceptions in case of rape and incest but the bill did not advance at all.

“Either recent polling numbers have changed Cameron’s core beliefs, or he is lying to Kentuckians now that he is seven weeks from an election,” a spokesperson for the Beshear campaign said in a statement about Cameron’s Monday comments.

The WHAS interview also touched on another area that has brought on social media criticism of Cameron — whether or not he wants to ban birth control and other contraceptives. Cameron said on the radio he supports birth control and contraception and wrote off the idea of him not supporting either as “completely absurd.”

However, in response to a questionnaire from anti-abortion group Northern Kentucky Right to Life earlier this year, Cameron’s campaign responded “yes” to all questions including the following: “Will you actively support (and if in a position to do so, sponsor and vote for) legislation which prohibits all use of local, state, federal, and/or Medicare or Medicaid funds for abortion (including chemical abortions, such as RU-486, or the so-called “morning after pill,” Norplant, Depo Provera, or the so-called “standard birth control pill”)?”

Cameron’s campaign also responded yes to another question regarding funding birth control: “If there should come before you the question of appointment or confirmation of an individual to any board, agency, or committee, etc., which does or could perform, counsel, refer, or fund abortion (including chemical abortions, such as RU-486, and the so-called “morning after pill,” Norplant, Depo Provera, and the so-called “standard birth control pill”), will you nominate or confirm only individuals (1) who refuse to perform, counsel, refer, or fund any surgical or chemical abortion and (2) who refuse to support, vote for, or fund any government or private agency that would perform, counsel, refer, or fund any surgical or chemical abortion.”