Blake Masters—the Republican Senate candidate attempting to unseat former astronaut Mark Kelly in Arizona—quietly removed any mention of supporting the fetal personhood movement from his candidate website on Thursday. Instead, two months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and completely upended healthcare as we know it, Masters seemingly wants to paint a more palatable image as he competes in a purple state.
The change, first reported by NBC News, was noted after Masters published an ad using the medically impossible term “partial-birth abortion” to explain his anti-abortion stance as “commonsense,” while saying his opponent’s views were too “extreme.” (Again, terms like “partial-birth abortion” are not medical terms; they’re used to make abortions seem seedy and dangerous to patients. Abortion is an incredibly safe medical procedure.) After the ad was published, Masters’ campaign launched a new version of his website that included “re-writing or erasing five of his six positions,” according to NBC News.
Masters’ website previously said that he supported “a federal personhood law (ideally a Constitutional amendment) that recognizes that unborn babies are human beings that may not be killed.” Currently missing from his website is his past support of the fetal personhood amendment, which would ban abortion nationwide. Now, Masters’ website partially reads: “I believe that Roe v. Wade was a bad decision, and Dobbs returned the power where it belongs: to the state legislatures and to the people.”
Masters won the Republican Senate primary earlier this month, easily beating his closest opponent by nearly 100,000 votes. However, with only 40 percent of the vote, Masters failed to be the first pick of a majority of Republican voters. It is not that surprising that a Republican candidate, endorsed by Donald Trump, supported a fetal personhood amendment. What is surprising is that Masters is seemingly backing away from this stance when Arizona has already passed a law implementing fetal personhood. The 2021 state law, which says a person exists from fertilization onward, is currently blocked by a federal judge.
So why would Masters back away now? Maybe it’s because a pro-abortion ballot measure in Kansas enjoyed a landslide victory this month, thanks to voters. Maybe it’s because one recent poll found that seven in 10 Americans want to vote on abortion, with more than half saying they would vote for legalizing it. And people voting to protect abortion access is definitely not what conservative nutjobs imagined when they said, “Let’s send abortion back to the states.”
Abortion is wildly popular. Bodily autonomy is a winning issue, even (and I’d argue especially) in swing districts. For years, people thought abortion couldn’t be taken away; they assumed it would be slowly hacked away at, and only in those southern states, anyway. The last two months—and the last year of six-week bans—have shown people what’s possible.
Masters doesn’t need to look into a crystal ball to see that being anti-abortion is a political liability in the upcoming midterms. But I would bet my credit card debt that it doesn’t mean his personal views have changed.