Abortion access could soon be decided by the states. Here’s what the next governors say.
Washington won’t determine the landscape if the Supreme Court upends the current national order on abortion — it will be up to each state and their governors and legislators to set abortion policy within their borders.
That has piled new policy pressure on this year’s most competitive gubernatorial races, where most Republican and Democratic candidates have polar opposite views on abortion and the winners will have broad latitude to set policy in states where their party also controls the legislature.
POLITICO sent a five-question survey to leading gubernatorial candidates in seven battleground states — Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan — asking candidates to explain where they stand on one of the most contentious issues of the 2022 midterms.
See what they had to say
Each state starts at a different point. States that have seen unified Republican control — like Georgia or Arizona — already have tight restrictions on abortion written into state law, which could take effect shortly after Roe is officially struck down. In Democratic-controlled Nevada, state law allows abortion procedures through 24 weeks of pregnancy — and that can only be changed by a voter referendum.
Would-be governors could have the biggest impact on abortion policy in states where the parties have split control of late. Some, including Michigan, have pre-Roe laws that either outright ban or severely limit abortion procedures if Roe is overturned. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sued to try to throw out the old law, which has been temporarily blocked as part of another lawsuit.
And in Kansas, a constitutional amendment is on the ballot in August to say there is no right to an abortion in the state, which would reverse a state Supreme Court decision from 2019. If it passes, the state’s pick for governor could have a big say in any further changes to state law.
Candidates who responded to POLITICO’s survey are quoted directly, with light editing for brevity, clarity and style. For candidates who either did not respond or did not directly answer the questions, POLITICO sought to represent their views on each question based on previous statements, media interviews, declared support for legislation and other public acts.
Do you support the draft opinion’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade?
Katie Hobbs (D): “No, I am outraged by this decision. It is an extreme assault on women’s reproductive freedom, and it takes us a giant step backward in our decadeslong fight for equality. As a social worker, I saw firsthand the devastating effects that a dangerous, traumatizing or unplanned pregnancy has on a woman and her family. The Supreme Court may have turned its back on women, but as governor, I never will.”
Marco López (D): “The proposed decision is an attack on reproductive freedom, keeping women and families from being able to make decisions for themselves and chart the course of their own lives. It will also primarily hurt low-income and rural families. Furthermore, it’s dangerous — abortions will still happen, they just won’t be in safe environments.”
Kari Lake (R): Yes. In an interview with KTAR, she said abortion policy “should fall [to] the states.”
Karrin Taylor Robson (R): Yes. Robson tweeted POLITICO’s reporting on the draft Supreme Court opinion, writing that “if this opinion holds, and I pray that it does” she would work to make the state “the most pro-life state in the union.”
Matt Salmon (R): Yes. In a statement, he said “if this draft opinion is any indication, the U.S. Supreme Court appears primed to save countless babies’ lives by delivering what pro-life Americans have been dreaming about for decades — and I am incredibly grateful.”
Stacey Abrams (D): No, she put out a statement condemning the draft ruling, and said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that opposing the ruling would be central to her campaign.
Brian Kemp (R): Yes. Following POLITICO’s reporting on the draft opinion, Kemp tweeted a statement saying “Georgia will remain a state that values life at all stages.”
Laura Kelly (D): No. Kelly did not directly answer POLITICO’s questions, but in a statement she said she will “continue to oppose all regressive legislation which interferes with individual rights or freedoms.”
Derek Schmidt (R): Likely. Schmidt’s statement after the draft Supreme Court decision was published said he would reserve judgment until a final ruling, but he signed on to a friend of the court brief supporting the case.
Gretchen Whitmer (D): No, Whitmer does not support the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Tudor Dixon (R): Yes. In a statement about the Supreme Court’s draft opinion, she talked about the “preciousness of life” and the need to support women who are pregnant.
Ryan Kelley (R): Yes. Kelley said during a recent debate that abortion “is absolutely not a right.”
Kevin Rinke (R): Yes. Rinke tweeted that “if true, I believe the Supreme Court acted properly.”
Garrett Soldano (R): Yes. Soldano tweeted “life is winning!” with a screenshot of POLITICO’s story about the draft Supreme Court opinion.
Steve Sisolak (D): “The Supreme Court’s draft opinion’s decision to limit reproductive rights for millions of women across the nation is extremely alarming. In Nevada, we’ve made sure the government stays out of the personal decision of if, when, and how to start a family — just as it should be.”
Joe Lombardo (R): Unclear. Lombardo’s campaign did not respond directly to POLITICO’s questions, with the candidate saying in a statement: “I’m Catholic and pro-life. What Nevada voters need to keep in mind is, regardless of what the U.S. Supreme Court does or doesn’t do, abortion policy is already addressed in Nevada law.”
Dean Heller (R): “Yes, I support states’ rights and believe abortion laws should be made at the state level.”
John Lee (R): Likely. In a op-ed in the Reno Gazette Journal last year, Lee wrote that “I pray [the court] will overturn Roe v. Wade and deliver a historic victory for our nation, the unborn and the global pro-life movement.”
Joey Gilbert (R): Unclear. In an interview with The Nevada Globe, when asked about the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion overturning Roe, he noted that “SCOTUS has made no official announcement.”
Josh Shapiro (D): “I have always fought to protect reproductive rights, and if abortion access is returned to the states, I will continue to stand with Pennsylvania women as governor and ensure that our Commonwealth remains a place where freedom is respected and everyone has the ability to live, work and thrive.”
Doug Mastriano (R): Yes. In a statement, Mastriano praised the draft Supreme Court opinion as “a good sign that the majority of the justices at this time are inclined to follow the science.”
Tony Evers (D): “I do not support any action that overturns Roe v. Wade. Politicians shouldn’t be interfering with personal, intimate reproductive health care decisions patients make in consultation with their family, faith and healthcare provider.”
Rebecca Kleefisch (R): “Yes.”
Tim Michels (R): Michels praised the draft Supreme Court opinion in a statement, saying he and his wife “have long worked for and prayed for this moment, and we hope this news proves to be true.”
Kevin Nicholson (R): Yes. He tweeted POLITICO’s reporting, writing “I pray this is true.”
Tim Ramthun (R): “Yes. Life begins at conception. The Lord knew us before we were in the womb. Life is a gift from God, we must stop killing babies. Also, it’s not the babies fault on how they were conceived…”
Do you support your state’s current abortion laws on the books? What, if any, changes do you believe should be made?
Katie Hobbs (D): “Absolutely not. … Arizona still has a law on the books from 1901 that effectively outlaws all abortion and requires mandatory prison time for doctors. I’ve called on [outgoing Republican Gov. Doug] Ducey and the legislature to repeal this ridiculous law immediately. I strongly believe that the decision to have a child should be between a woman and her doctor, not the government or politicians. That’s why as governor, I will veto any bill that attacks reproductive rights.”
Marco López (D): “The 15-week ban signed into law by Gov. Ducey in March, with no exception for rape or incest, is a travesty. As governor I will stand firmly against these continued attacks on women and families and make it clear that I unequivocally support reproductive rights.”
Kari Lake (R): Yes. In the KTAR interview, she said “we have existing laws on the books that would make it very difficult to get an abortion here, and I think it should be difficult.” She said she wanted to work with lawmakers to pass “pro-life legislation.”
Karrin Taylor Robson (R): Likely so. Arizona already has fairly strict abortion laws, but in an interview with KTAR, she said laws may need “updating” if Roe was overturned.
Matt Salmon (R): Yes. Salmon’s release noted that he praised the state’s laws as “a great law on the books.”
Stacey Abrams (D): No. She called the state’s “heartbeat” law that was passed in 2019 “draconian.”
Brian Kemp (R): Yes. As governor, Kemp signed a “heartbeat” law in 2019 that would ban most abortions after six weeks in the state if Roe is overturned.
Laura Kelly (D): Yes. Kelly opposes the proposed state constitutional amendment that would say there is no explicit right to an abortion in the state constitution.
Derek Schmidt (R): No. Schmidt supports the proposed constitutional amendment to declare no right to an abortion under Kansas’ constitution, and has previously asked the state Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling that there is a right under the state constitution.
Gretchen Whitmer (D): No. Whitmer has asked the state Supreme Court to throw out the state’s pre-Roe law that bans most abortions in the state.
Tudor Dixon (R): Yes. In a recent debate hosted by MIRS News and the Livingston County Republican Party, Dixon praised the current state law that bans abortion in the state as “a good law.”
Ryan Kelley (R): Yes. In a debate, Kelley said he would sign a law similar to the 1931 ban, should it be overturned.
Kevin Rinke (R): Likely. Rinke called Michigan’s pre-Roe law “appropriate” in the recent debate, but said he would sign a new law as well.
Garrett Soldano (R): Likely so. Soldano has said that he believes life begins “when DNA is created,” which aligns with the state’s 1930s near-total abortion ban.
Steve Sisolak (D): “In Nevada, the right to an abortion within 24 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy is codified in statute by a vote of the people. Our law supports women who have to make the difficult decision of whether or not they want to start a family and keeps the government out of family decisions.”
Joe Lombardo (R): Unclear. In an interview with KRNV, before the draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe was published, Lombardo said: “I support the existing laws that are in the state of Nevada.” But during a debate hosted by KLAS in late May, Lombardo said he would “absolutely” consider additional restrictions, such as a waiting period.
Dean Heller (R): “No, current Nevada law permits abortions at up to 24 weeks of pregnancy and I feel that is inadequate protection for unborn children.”
John Lee (R): No. During a May debate, Lee said he supports a “heartbeat bill,” which is significantly stricter than Nevada’s current laws.
Joey Gilbert (R): Not personally, but he said during a May debate that “Nevada is a pro-choice state and we have to respect that.” Gilbert, who says he is “pro-life,” said that he believed that choice should be made by “the people” and not the governor, noting it is codified in state law. He also said he supports parental consent laws.
Josh Shapiro (D): “If Roe is overturned, I will ensure that we protect Pennsylvania’s current law, which allows abortions up to 24 weeks. Republicans in our state legislature will put a bill on the next Governor’s desk to ban abortion. My opponents will sign that bill. I will veto that bill and protect the right to choose in Pennsylvania.”
Doug Mastriano (R): No. Mastriano has introduced a “heartbeat bill” in the state legislature.
Tony Evers (D): “Right now, abortion is still legal in Wisconsin. But should Roe be overturned, a centuries-old law which criminalizes all or most abortions could take effect. I will continue to work with the legislature to repeal this archaic law.”
Rebecca Kleefisch (R): “Currently, if Roe is overturned the laws on the books in Wisconsin would ban abortion in all cases except for when the life of the mother was at risk. I would support keeping that law on the books.”
Tim Michels (R): Michels likely supports the pre-Roe law in the state that bans most abortions, but POLITICO could not locate a specific instance of him mentioning the law.
Kevin Nicholson (R): Likely — should Roe be overturned, Wisconsin’s existing law would ban most abortions.
Tim Ramthun (R): “I support [Wisconsin’s] current abortion laws. I feel they should be tightened up.”
Do you believe abortion should be banned outright in your state?
Katie Hobbs (D): “No. Women should have access to safe and legal abortion. Overturning Roe v. Wade or banning abortion is not going to stop women from seeking abortions — it only pushes them into a corner and forces them to seek unsafe and dangerous alternatives.”
Marco López (D): “Absolutely not. I oppose any abortion restrictions that will endanger and punish women and families.”
Kari Lake (R): Unclear, but potentially. In the KTAR interview, she said legislation would have to come from lawmakers, but said her personal belief was that abortion was “the ultimate sin.”
Karrin Taylor Robson (R): Unclear, but potentially. She has supported laws that result in a near-total ban on abortion and said “abortion, in my estimation, is evidence we failed women,” in the KTAR interview.
Matt Salmon (R): It is unclear if Salmon supports an outright ban, but he has praised policies that ban abortions after six weeks.
Stacey Abrams (D): No.
Brian Kemp (R): Unclear. During the GOP primary, former Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) pushed Kemp to answer questions about a total ban, and Kemp did not.
Laura Kelly (D): No.
Derek Schmidt (R): Schmidt’s exact stance on abortion is unclear, but his campaign website says has been “protecting traditional values” like “life,” and has been endorsed by Kansans for Life, the state’s leading anti-abortion group.
Gretchen Whitmer (D): No.
Tudor Dixon (R): Yes. The current law in the state bans nearly all abortions.
Ryan Kelley (R): Yes. Kelley voiced his support for Michigan’s current law banning nearly all abortions.
Kevin Rinke (R): Yes. Rinke named a few exceptions to abortion bans, comparing his stance to former President Donald Trump.
Garrett Soldano (R): Yes, he has signaled he supports a total ban.
Steve Sisolak (D): “Absolutely not and any cruel attempt to do so would be incredibly harmful to Nevada women. I support Nevadans’ statutory right to an abortion within 24 weeks of pregnancy and as long as I’m governor, I will oppose any attempts — whether at the federal or state level — to attack this right.”
Joe Lombardo (R): No.
Dean Heller (R): “Yes, with the exceptions of instances of rape, incest or threat to the mother’s life.”
John Lee (R): It is unclear if Lee supports an outright ban, but he supports strict bans on abortion.
Joey Gilbert (R): Unclear. Gilbert has reiterated in interviews that he is “100 percent pro-life and against abortions,” but notes that it is a decision of voters in the state.
Josh Shapiro (D): “No. … As the next governor of Pennsylvania, I will continue to protect the right to choose and veto any bill that would further restrict abortion rights, because every Pennsylvanian should be able to receive the health care they need.”
Doug Mastriano (R): Yes. During a primary debate, Mastriano touted introducing the “heartbeat bill” and said he would look to “work our way toward” a ban at conception.
Tony Evers (D): “No, I do not believe abortion should be banned in our state. Abortion is health care — and everyone deserves to have access to quality, affordable healthcare.”
Rebecca Kleefisch (R): Kleefisch supports a total abortion ban with an exception for the pregnant person’s life.
Tim Michels (R): Yes. During a 2004 Senate run, Mitchell told a voter that he did not believe in exceptions for abortion, according to an archived article from the Wisconsin State Journal.
Kevin Nicholson (R): Yes. A major anti-abortion group in the state told the AP that Nicholson pledged to vote to ban all abortions during his 2018 Senate run.
Tim Ramthun (R): “Yes. Abolish abortion as adoption is the option! Get right with the Lord!”
Should there be gestational limits on abortion procedures?
Katie Hobbs (D): “The decision to have a child should rest solely between a woman and her doctor, not the government or politicians. I have a long legislative record supporting women’s reproductive rights, and I’ll do the same as governor.”
Marco López (D): “Again, I oppose abortion restrictions that will endanger and punish women. Looking at any proposed restriction, I’d want to know: Does it reflect evidence-based medical best practices or does it recklessly take personal medical decisions in complicated situations out of the hands of women, families and their doctors?”
Kari Lake (R): Lake’s exact line on a gestational limit is unclear, but she supports limits on abortion.
Karrin Taylor Robson (R): Robson celebrated the passage of Texas’ “heartbeat” abortion ban, which bans abortion after the first six weeks of pregnancy.
Matt Salmon (R): Yes. He has praised legislation that bans abortion after 6 weeks.
Stacey Abrams (D): No. When asked about limitations in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, she said it is “the responsibility of women and their doctors, women and their families, women and whomever they choose to bring into the conversation, but it is not the conversation for government to be having.”
Brian Kemp (R): Yes. The bill Kemp signed in 2019 would ban abortion at six weeks.
Laura Kelly (D): No. Kelly’s statement to POLITICO said she’s “always believed that every woman’s reproductive decisions should be left to her and her physician.” State law currently prohibits most abortions after 22 weeks.
Derek Schmidt (R): Schmidt’s exact line is unclear. His office did, however, appeal a court decision in the state that struck “down a Kansas law banning a common second-trimester abortion procedure as ‘unconstitutional and unenforceable,’” according to the Associated Press.
Gretchen Whitmer (D): No. In a recent statement after signing an executive order that barred state agencies from cooperating with other states looking to prosecute women seeking abortion, Whitmer said “a woman must be able to make her own medical decisions with the advice of a health care professional she trusts. Politicians should not make that decision for her.”
Tudor Dixon (R): Not applicable.
Ryan Kelley (R): Not applicable.
Kevin Rinke (R): Not applicable.
Garrett Soldano (R): Not applicable.
Steve Sisolak (D): “The decision of whether or not to start a family is a deeply personal one and it is not the government’s role to determine what decisions a woman makes. I will continue to defend Nevadans’ statutory right to an abortion within 24 weeks of pregnancy.”
Joe Lombardo (R): Yes, he does. “I don’t support any change in that dynamic, but I also support pro-life,” he said during an interview with KRNV. “So I don’t wish it to be any less restrictive than it currently is.” Lombardo also told a Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist he would support a 13-week ban, should voters support it.
Dean Heller (R): “Yes.”
John Lee (R): Yes. During a May debate, Lee said he supports a “heartbeat bill,” which is typically a ban after six weeks.
Joey Gilbert (R): Yes. Gilbert said during a debate he would like to see the time period “rolled back to 20 weeks.”
Josh Shapiro (D): “I believe in upholding the 50-year legal precedence under Roe and will veto any bill to further restrict the right to choose in Pennsylvania. If Roe is overturned, I will ensure that we protect Pennsylvania’s current law, which allows women to have an abortion up to 24 weeks or when the life of the mother is at risk.”
Doug Mastriano (R): Not applicable.
Tony Evers (D): “I support access to abortion that is currently protected by Roe v. Wade, because we should trust patients to make decisions about their reproductive healthcare in consultation with their family, faith and doctor, and without interference from politicians. That’s why we must also repeal Wisconsin’s archaic criminal ban on abortion.”
Rebecca Kleefisch (R): Kleefisch supports a total abortion ban with an exception for the pregnant person’s life.
Tim Michels (R): Not applicable.
Kevin Nicholson (R): Not applicable.
Tim Ramthun (R): “Abolish abortion and you don’t need to concern yourself with any procedures, limitations, exceptions.”
Should there be exceptions to limits or bans — like the health of the mother, or rape or incest?
Katie Hobbs (D): “I don’t support the bans in the first place, but it’s appalling that Arizona’s abortion bans do not provide exceptions for rape or incest. It shows just how out of touch these politicians are and just how far they’ll go to restrict women’s freedoms.”
Marco López (D): “Women and families are consistently harmed by Republicans’ draconian bans that do not allow for exceptions like for the health of the mother, or in the case of rape or incest. The fact that in some states doctors who perform abortions face sentences that far exceed those of the most violent sexual offenders is backwards and criminal.”
Kari Lake (R): Unclear. Lake said there were some “choices” for a mother’s health in the KTAR interview, but she did not elaborate.
Karrin Taylor Robson (R): The Texas heartbeat law that Robson supported has exceptions in the case of medical emergencies, but not for rape or incest.
Matt Salmon (R): Current state law, which Salmon has supported, does not allow for exceptions for rape or incest but does for a “medical emergency.”
Stacey Abrams (D): Not applicable.
Brian Kemp (R): Yes. The law Kemp signed in 2019 allowed for exemptions in the case of rape, incest, the life of the pregnant person or “medical futility,” according to The Atlanta Journal Constitution. A police report would be required to substantiate the first two reasons after six weeks.
Laura Kelly (D): Not applicable.
Derek Schmidt (R): Unclear.
Gretchen Whitmer (D): Not applicable.
Tudor Dixon (R): The 1931 abortion law that Dixon has praised only allows for an exception for the life of a pregnant person.
Ryan Kelley (R): Kelley said he would sign a law banning abortions except “if the mother’s life is being threatened.”
Kevin Rinke (R): In the recent debate, Rinke said he is “pro-life with exceptions: rape, incest and the life of the mother.” The current state law does not allow for the first two exceptions.
Garrett Soldano (R): No. In the debate, Soldano said that in “where in the history of our species, did we ever, ever sacrifice the child for the act of the mother?” In an earlier interview, Soldano implied that for women who were raped, “God put them in this moment.” A Soldano spokesperson did, however, tell MLive that he believed one should be allowed where both the mother and child would die.
Steve Sisolak (D): “In Nevada, the right to an abortion within 24 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy is codified in statute by a vote of the people — including in situations of rape, incest or where the health of the mother is at risk.”
Joe Lombardo (R): Yes. In an interview with KRNV, he said he supports exemptions for the health of the mother, sexual assault and incest.
Dean Heller (R): “Yes.”
John Lee (R): Yes. He said he believed if it was “rape, the life of the mother or incest, that is a family issue,” during a May debate.
Joey Gilbert (R): Unclear.
Josh Shapiro (D): “All of my opponents have said that they will support legislation that restricts abortion in Pennsylvania — including two who believe there should be no exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother. These cruel and dangerous policies not only attempt to shift the blame on women and survivors, but put women’s lives at risk.”
Doug Mastriano (R): Mastriano said during the primary debate he did not believe in exceptions.
Tony Evers (D): “We should not ban access to abortion in Wisconsin or any state across the country. Wisconsin’s current pre-Civil War ban includes no exceptions for rape or incest and must be overturned.”
Rebecca Kleefisch (R): “I would maintain the life of the mother exception that is already on the books in Wisconsin.”
Tim Michels (R): No.
Kevin Nicholson (R): No, per Nicholson’s answers to an anti-abortion group in Wisconsin.
Tim Ramthun (R): “If/when health of the mother is in question, attempts to save both lives is desired.”