LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Republican candidate and current Attorney General Daniel Cameron now says he would support some exceptions to the state’s near-total ban on abortion. This shift in messaging comes less than 50 days until the election.
In a radio interview with WHAS 840 Monday, Sept. 18, Cameron said he would support a bill adding exceptions for rape and incest to the state’s abortion ban, should it be passed by the state legislature.
This stance is a shift in tone for Cameron, who stated during a Spectrum News 1 debate earlier this year that he supported the current law as it’s written.
As attorney general, Cameron’s office has defended the state’s abortion ban in court. The Office of Attorney General’s website also lists “protecting Life” as a priority.
Following his comments, Cameron’s campaign clarified his position.
“Daniel Cameron is the pro-life candidate for governor and 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,” a Cameron spokesperson said.
Gov. Andy Beshear’s campaign fired back, saying “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.”
Dr. Stephen Voss, a political science professor at the University of Kentucky, offered these thoughts on Cameron’s change of tone.
“So, you know, somebody asks me, did Cameron do the right thing by signaling some flexibility on the abortion issue?” Voss said. “My gut tells me no, that any benefit Cameron gets out of sounding more middle of the road now ends up doing more harm because it gives voters a sense that they don’t really know where he stands on important issues.”
Voss highlights since Roe v. Wade was overturned last year, the staunch anti-abortion stance of Republicans like Cameron has not rallied support as it once did.
“Anti-abortion voters got what they wanted with the fall of Roe v. Wade. Now, the problem for Republicans is that the abortion issue has flipped on them. The abortion issue is now mobilizing Democratic voters and more pro-choice voters,” Voss said.
As for if it’s too late in the race for Cameron to change his messaging? Voss says not necessarily.
“If pivoting were going to help, no, I don’t think Cameron was too late at doing that. Especially because the more middle of the road, the more squishy voters who could pick a Democrat or Republican, they tend to be very late in making their decisions,” Voss said.
Last November, Kentucky voters rejected a ballot amendment that would have changed the constitution to say outright that there’s no right to an abortion. This year House Majority Whip Jason Nemes ,R-Louisville, filed a bill that would have added a rape and incest exception to state law. It died before ever reaching a committee.
“Ultimately, whether we’re likely to see a softening of Kentucky’s abortion regulations depends on what the Republican Party leadership in the General Assembly is willing to see move,” Voss said.
The Human Protection Act went into effect last year after Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court. It only allows abortions to be performed in Kentucky if it is necessary to protect the life of a pregnant mother.