McSally on Legal Abortion

A hand writes the word "Abortion" on a chalkboard

Jun 3, 2017

It has sometimes been difficult for the press to pin Martha McSally down on her views on legal abortion.


During her 2012 campaign, Martha McSally’s web site stated plainly, “I believe in the sanctity of every human life.”[1] In February of that year, she dodged when the Tucson Weekly asked whether that meant she would oppose legal abortion in the case of rape or incest: “legislators are not really involved in this issue right now.”[2]


The next month, however, she checked the box on a Center for Arizona Policy questionnaire to indicate her opposition to legal abortion, “except where it is necessary to prevent the death of the mother.” Soon afterward, she spoke on the subject at a Young Republican Club Debate: “I believe that life begins at conception and we need to make sure that the sanctity of life is preserved. This is our responsibility at the federal, the state, and the community level.”[3]

That summer, Todd Akin made his infamous comments about “legitimate rape.” By August, McSally’s spokesman was telling the press that McSally still opposed legal abortion, but also supported exemptions for “rape, incest and the life of the mother.”[4] He also said that she would be updating her responses to the CAP questionnaire.


In 2013, McSally reiterated to radio host John C. Scott that she was “pro-life with three exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother”; she said much the same to the Arizona Republic editorial board in 2014.[5] She would not tell the Arizona Republic where she stood on a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation, but after she was elected, she voted for it. [6]
She did not fill out the CAP questionnaire in 2014, and has not responded to requests from the Tucson Weekly (in 2013) or from McSally Take a Stand (in 2017) to update her answers to the 2012 questionnaire. She no longer includes her position on legal abortion on her web site.