Former GOP Senator Dean Heller launched into the Nevada gubernatorial race on Monday, telling reporters that if elected he would fully support a Texan-style ban on abortions.
Texas Senate Bill 8 bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, making it the toughest anti-abortion law in the country. Many women don’t even know they’re pregnant at six weeks, which means the law bans abortions outright.
The state compensates and urges private citizens to prosecute those involved in “aiding or abetting” an abortion. It could be a doctor, a friend, or even the driver who dropped the pregnant person off at the clinic.
Heller was appointed to the US Senate in 2011 and lost his seat in the 2018 election, to simultaneous criticism from his party’s right-wing base and Democrats who said he was too conservative for a state that opted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Heller’s comments on Monday, the first day of his gubernatorial campaign, indicate he plans to try and win over Tories who were skeptical of him as he competes for his party’s nomination to face the Governor Steve Sisolak (D) next year. Heller has called himself “the only proven Tory in this race” and has spoken out against mask and vaccine warrants to fight the coronavirus, as well as Democrat-led voting rights measures.
His stance on abortion, however, could be problematic in the general election. As the Nevada Independent notes, polls consistently show voters in the state support the right to abortion.
Heller’s comments are remarkably different from the stance he once had on abortion. In 2006, he said, “I am a Mormon and teach Sunday School every week, but I support a woman’s right to choose abortion. This is the conservative position.
But as a senator from 2011 to 2019, he systematically voted against the right to abortion.
In 2017, Heller was criticized by Conservatives for swearing to “protect family planning” and said he had “no problem with federal funding for family planning.” His office then clarified his remarks to say that the senator liked the non-abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood.
Abortion rights are shaping up to be a major issue in upcoming election cycles, as other states begin to prepare for the potential overthrow of Roe v. Wade and plan to pass the Texas Bills.