PHOENIX — During an otherwise low-key interview on television Sunday night, Hiral Tipirneni defended laws allowing partial-birth abortion and said that she doesn’t want Congress to legislate against the issue.
Tipirneni is running for the open seat in Arizona’s eighth congressional district. Widely seen as an underdog, the Democrat is hoping to capitalize on liberal voters’ enthusiasm (in response to the Trump presidency) to score an upset in the deep-red district, where Republicans have a significant voter-registration advantage. The area extends from Litchfield Park to New River and includes the densely populated communities of Sun City West.
Tipirneni appeared on MSNBC for an interview about her campaign and was asked point-blank by Kasie Hunt, the host: “Would you support, for example, a ban on partial-birth abortion?”
The candidate responded by talking about her background as a physician — which itself has been the subject of scrutiny — but then defended the legality of the practice: “I truly do believe that that is a decision that should be between a woman, her partner, her physician, and her faith.”
“We know that we have Roe vs. Wade in place, and we want all of our legislation to be in alignment with that,” Tipirneni said, adding that Americans should focus on more “sex education in the classrooms” and making sure that women have “access to contraception.”
Hunt then asked her a follow-up question, “Is there a point at which you do think that abortion should be limited?” to which Tipirneni gave a similar answer.
The Democrat said that late-term abortions — which, conducted during the later stages of pregnancy, are significantly more controversial among voters — are “based on medical input from very experienced physicians.”
“I don’t think that that is something we should be legislating,” Tipirneni said. “We need to let medical professionals make that decision . . .”
The admission during the uncomfortable, televised exchange could end up placing another barrier between the candidate and a potential victory Tuesday as Republicans ramp up their get-out-the-vote operations.
Tipirneni has long tried to paint herself as a moderate Democrat but has been criticized for her opposition to the tax relief package and U.S.-Mexico border wall — as well as her support for the Affordable Care Act, often known as “Obamacare.”
Tipirneni’s position on abortion was not common knowledge until the MSNBC appearance.
The interview came after a week-long media blitz, including the Democrat’s Q&A sessions on KAET Thursday evening and KSAZ early Sunday morning, when she announced her opposition to Governor Doug Ducey’s plan to give a 20 percent pay raise to teachers in Arizona.