By Michelle Watson and Devan Cole, CNN
Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams said Sunday that she was “anti-abortion” until she went to college and met a friend who gave her a new perspective on the contentious issue.
“I’ve thought about my faith a great deal. In fact, I was anti-abortion until I went to college. And there I met a friend who has my shared faith values, but we started having conversations about what reproductive care and abortion care really is. And when I talk about that, it was an experience that I had because she was able to give me a different perspective,” Abrams told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” when asked how her Christian faith factors into her thinking on the issue.
“And over the course of the next few years, I really started thinking about what role should the legislature play, what role should government play?” she continued. “This is health care. This is about a woman’s right to control her body. … And that, for me as a matter of faith, means that I don’t impose those values systems on others. More importantly, I protect her rights, I protect her humanity and that should be my responsibility.”
Abrams is currently in her second campaign for governor of Georgia against GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, who narrowly defeated her in 2018. Abortion rights has become a key issue in Georgia this time after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, a decision that helped clear the way for a restrictive abortion ban in the state to take effect.
The ban, signed by Kemp 2019, prohibits abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — when many women don’t yet know they’re pregnant. The law was later blocked by a federal district judge as unconstitutional. However, after Roe was overturned, a federal appeals court allowed it to take effect.
Asked by Bash how she would fight for abortion rights with a Republican-controlled state legislature, Abrams said such a scenario wouldn’t be the first time she’s had to interact with people of varying political ideologies.
“I served for 11 years in the legislature, seven years as Democratic leader, as the minority leader, and I was extraordinarily successful,” she said.
“I understand how to negotiate and how to navigate, but what I also understand is that the majority of Georgians do not like this law — it is an extreme ban, it is dangerous, and it affects women across the spectrum,” she added.
“Electing me as governor is going to be a sea change, and it is going to be a strong signal to the remaining legislators that they’ve got to do right by the women of Georgia,” Abrams said.
Abrams has previously called for federal legislation restoring Roe v. Wade, telling CNN in June that there’s a need for a “legislative solution that restores the constitutional protection to women, regardless of the state they live in.”
Separately, Abrams was asked Sunday if she would support a second term for President Joe Biden.
“If he chooses to run again, I am there to support him,” Abrams told Bash.
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CNN’s Chandelis Duster and Sonnet Swire contributed to this report.