Despite previously supporting anti-abortion stances, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joy Hofmeister has called for the reversal of Oklahoma’s near total abortion ban as she attempts to unseat incumbent Gov. Kevin Stitt.
In 2014 when Hofmeister ran for State Superintendent as a Republican, she said she would support a bill to “prohibit abortion except to prevent the death of the mother” upon the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Hofmeister said she would vote for such legislation in responses to a candidate survey from the pro-life group Oklahomans for Life.
In a written response to questions from The Frontier, Hofmeister, who considers herself “personally pro-life,” said her stance on abortion has changed since 2014 after learning “from women, doctors, victims of rape and our children victimized by incest” that the decision to have an abortion is “complex” and “should be made between a woman and her doctor.”
As a candidate for governor, Hofmeister has called for the reversal of anti-abortion laws Stitt has signed, particularly Oklahoma’s Texas-style ban that allows private citizens to sue providers or anyone who helps a woman obtain the procedure. But she has yet to tell voters what alternative policies, if any, she would support or how she would go about overturning the state’s ban.
Being a pro-life Democrat running for governor in Oklahoma is not without precedent. In 2014, former state Rep. Joe Dorman was the Democratic gubernatorial nominee and was staunchly pro-life. In the same survey Hofmeister filled out, he also said he would support banning abortion except to save the life of a mother if Roe v. Wade was overturned.
Other Democrats, such as Oklahoma’s Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, Kendra Horn, are making abortion a central campaign issue this year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s rollback of constitutional protections for the procedure. Horn’s first television ad was also all about abortion.
“Banning abortion without exception puts all women at risk,” Horn said in an op-ed for HuffPost. “It is government overreach, plain and simple, and it’s wrong. Women have a right to privacy. Women have a right to health care. Women’s rights are not something that can just be stripped away.”
Nationally, Democratic candidates are seizing onto abortion as a main platform following Roe v. Wade being overturned. Even in red-states such as Texas, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke is making abortion rights a main stump of his campaign. This trend intensified after Aug. 2, when Kansas shot down a ballot measure that would have given the state the ability to ban abortion.
“Candidates should state their stance on abortion,” said Tamaya Cox-Toure, co-chair of the group Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice, speaking about political candidates in general. “We argue that voters are more engaged around this issue than ever before because of the overturning of (Roe v. Wade) and voters are going to make their decisions based off what the candidates say about abortion rights.”
Stitt has made his anti-abortion views clear, going as far as banning the procedure in Oklahoma except to save the life of a mother.
“From the beginning, Gov. Stitt has been clear and unabashed in his conviction to protect the most innocent lives among us in Oklahoma,” Stitt campaign spokeswoman Donelle Harder said.
In an interview with The Frontier in early August, Hofmeister criticized Stitt’s stance on abortion but only vaguely talked about her personal position.
“Governor Stitt’s law and the laws he has passed are extreme,” Hofmeister said in the interview. “They take away the freedom of individuals and women to direct their own futures and they need to be reversed. They harm families and women (and) his extreme laws have no exceptions for rape or incest.”
The Frontier asked Hofmeister if she supported expanding abortion access or legalizing the procedure without any limits.
“That is a very important issue to think about,” she said. “How do we bring balance so that women have the ability to make their own decisions that it is done with their physician and that we consider all options on the table today?’
A spokeswoman for Hofmeister’s campaign said Hofmeister does not believe abortion should only be legal in instances involving rape, incest or to save the life of a mother but did not expand on Hofmeister’s position.