Just how toxic are the abortion bans Republican lawmakers have pushed in red states across the country? Here's a clue: Kentucky GOP gubernatorial nominee Daniel Cameron, once a staunch supporter of the state's near-total abortion ban, flip-flopped on the issue Monday as he seeks to unseat popular Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.
"If our legislature was to bring legislation before me that provided exceptions for rape and incest, I would sign that legislation," Cameron, who is also the state’s attorney general, said Monday during the "Tony & Dwight" show on NewsRadio 840 WHAS. "There's no question about that."
Cameron had been a staunch supporter of current Kentucky abortion law, which bans all abortions, with the only exceptions being to protect the life of the pregnant person or prevent disabling them. According to the Louisville Courier Journal, Cameron had previously expressed support for the current law on "multiple" occasions.
Cameron's apparent change of heart came in the wake of a devastating campaign ad from Team Beshear in which Jefferson County Prosecutor Erin White highlighted the cruelty of Cameron’s position.
“Daniel Cameron thinks a 9-year-old rape survivor should be forced to give birth,” White said in the ad. “Nobody—no child—should ever have to go through that. Cameron believes rapists deserve more rights than their victims. That’s extreme, and it's dangerous.”
After backtracking on his stance, Cameron accused Beshear of running a "smear campaign" against him.
But Cameron's flip-flop isn't the outcome of a smear campaign: It's the result of a deeply unpopular position adopted and heralded by Republicans across the country.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit that supports abortion rights, total or near-total abortion bans are currently being enforced in more a dozen states, all of them being red: Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. North Carolina and Nebraska have both enacted 12-week abortion bans.
Earlier this year, Cameron also adopted the extremist position that many types of birth control cause abortions, including birth control pills, in response to a 2023 questionnaire from Northern Kentucky Right to Life. As independent journalist Jessica Valenti noted, "Cameron affirmed that he would codify personhood from the moment of fertilization, support legislation that prohibits state funding for abortion, and criminalize anyone who provides abortion care or even pays for an abortion." Cameron also flip-flopped on this issue in his radio interview, saying that he now supports birth control.
There’s no way around it: Cameron's original positions are both extreme and extremely unpopular. If they weren't, he would stick with them. But internal polling has clearly found his anti-abortion zealotry is an absolute killer at the ballot box, where he will be going head-to-head with Gov. Beshear in 49 days.
In November, all eyes will be on the gubernatorial contest in Kentucky, Beshear's win/loss margin, what it indicates about Republicans' de facto abortion stance, and whether specific GOP candidates stand any chance of disentangling themselves from Republicans' national posture on the issue. But one thing is for sure, Team Beshear chose to feature Cameron's anti-abortion extremism in no uncertain terms, and now Cameron is playing defense.
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