Nikki Haley Generously Proposes Not Executing Women Who Have Abortions

The 2024 candidate's attempt to appear compassionate instead highlighted how extreme her party has become.

Nikki Haley Generously Proposes Not Executing Women Who Have Abortions
Screenshot:Twitter (Fair Use)

When Republicans try to sound reasonable or compassionate about abortion bans, they inevitably end up making giant fools of themselves. Case in point: Former South Carolina governor and presidential hopeful Nikki Haley said in a CNN town hall in Iowa on Sunday that the consensus on abortion is that people who terminate their pregnancies shouldn’t be jailed or executed. A real Mother Theresa over here.

“I think we can all come together and say any woman that has an abortion shouldn’t be jailed or given the death penalty. Can’t we start there?” she asked, while bringing her right and left hands together as if to corral the small number of people who think this was a good thing to say. Tepid applause followed.

While this feels like a scarily ridiculous thing to say—and it is—it’s also an illustration of how extreme Republicans have become on abortion: A candidate feels the need to state that the starting point in the “debate” should be not executing people who have a medical procedure that was constitutionally protected for nearly 50 years, until a wholly corrupted Supreme Court had enough votes to overturn it.

Here’s a clip of the interaction:

Haley is probably referring to the fact that lawmakers in her home state proposed a bill that would define abortion as murder, making people who have abortions eligible for the death penalty. She may also be invoking the horrific story of a South Carolina woman who was arrested for allegedly using abortion pills to end her pregnancy.

“What the politicos and what the media have done is they’ve made you demonize the situation when it’s so personal that we have to humanize the situation,” Haley continued. As a member of the media, I’m gonna call bullshit: It’s actually the Republican lawmakers who’ve banned abortion in 15 states and counting who are the ones responsible for demonizing abortions.

She also said she believes there is a “federal role” regarding abortion but refused to get more specific, beyond saying she wants to ban abortions later in pregnancy in states that still have abortion access and expand access to birth control.

CNN’s host, Jake Tapper, pointedly asked if Haley would sign a nationwide six-week abortion ban if it came to her desk and she deflected. “But why…I will answer that when you ask Kamala [Harris] and [Joe] Biden if they would agree to 37 weeks, 38 weeks, 39 weeks. Then I’ll answer your question.” Yes, people need abortions in the third trimester, but it’s because they couldn’t get an abortion sooner, or because they get a terrible diagnosis later in pregnancy. Haley attempting to pivot toward discussing the very small number of later abortions instead of talking about the devastation of a near-total abortion ban is telling: She’s already running scared on this issue.

Haley is courting primary voters at this point, but even a majority of Republicans (55 percent) think abortion shouldn’t be banned. Perhaps for that reason, she’s been avoiding talking about a six-week ban, which has been proposed by anti-abortion groups. For weeks, she’s been saying it’s a non-issue and would never pass Congress—even though Republicans could end the filibuster to pass such a ban (or the Supreme Court could simply ban abortion for them).

But that is all, of course, intentional obfuscation on Haley’s part. After all, this is a woman who Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America resident Marjorie Dannenfelser said is “uniquely gifted at communicating from a pro-life woman’s perspective.”

Republican presidential candidates will continue to dance and dodge on public questions about abortion bans because they know they’re deeply unpopular, but don’t think for a second that the eventual nominee would be so wishy-washy if they become president.

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