Nikki Haley Says Embryos Are ‘Babies’ After Posturing as a Moderate on Abortion

“When you talk about an embryo, you are talking about, to me, that’s a life,” Haley said, concurring with a recent, disturbing court ruling in Alabama.

Nikki Haley Says Embryos Are ‘Babies’ After Posturing as a Moderate on Abortion

In a Wednesday interview with NBC’s Ali Vitali, Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley concurred with a recent, disturbing Alabama Supreme Court ruling that recognized embryos as “extrauterine children.” “Embryos, to me, are babies,” Haley said. “When you talk about an embryo, you are talking about, to me, that’s a life. And so I do see where that’s coming from when they talk about that.”

Friday’s ruling, which recognizes the destruction of frozen embryos as “wrongful death,” has already resulted in three Alabama IVF clinic suspending their services. “We must evaluate the potential that our patients and our physicians could be prosecuted criminally or face punitive damages for following the standard of care for IVF treatments,” a spokesperson for the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility said in a Wednesday statement. Legal experts warn that the ruling poses a broad threat to both access to IVF, which involves the routine destruction of unused embryos, and the safety and rights of pregnant people, which are at odds with the legal recognition of embryos as people.

Despite her run-of-the-mill, awful policy positions, Haley has long tried to present herself as a moderate Republican, particularly on abortion. Her most generous abortion-related pitch is that the state shouldn’t execute people who have abortions—even though, if you’re going to argue embryos are “children,” the natural conclusion of that thinking seems to be prison or the threat of the death penalty for abortion and pregnancy loss. Haley has also postured as pretend-reasonable by saying Republicans need to be “honest” that the numbers aren’t there for a federal abortion ban; at the same time, she’s said she would sign a hypothetical federal abortion ban if one were to fall into her lap. In November, Haley said she’d sign South Carolina’s six-week abortion ban if it passed while she was governor.

So, in this context, Haley’s concurrence with Alabama’s dangerous fetal personhood ruling isn’t all that surprising. But it’s certainly in contrast with the image she’s tried to project for herself throughout the campaign trail. 

When Vitali asked Haley about the “chilling effect” that Alabama’s ruling could have on families with fertility struggles who may look to IVF, Haley predictably failed to offer a real answer…or any answer at all. “This is one where we need to be incredibly respectful and sensitive about it,” she said. (Hmm, I wonder if patients seeking IVF find it “respectful” and “sensitive” to be denied care because embryos are “children.”) “Every woman needs to know, with her partner, what she’s looking at. And then when you look at that, then you make the decision that’s best for your family,” Haley said. I can’t emphasize enough what mealy-mouthed bullshit this is coming from someone who, again, would sign a federal abortion ban and says she sees embryos as “babies.”

On Friday, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that three couples who in 2021 accused a fertility clinic and hospital in Mobile, Alabama, of accidentally destroying their embryos have grounds to sue for “wrongful death.” In September, the Medical Association of the State of Alabama filed a brief in this case warning that such a ruling could “substantially increase the costs associated with IVF” due to the increased risk of “wrongful death” lawsuits. At worst, the group warned, such a ruling could result in the mass closure of IVF clinics in the state, as we’re seeing with the University of Alabama. Barbara Collura, CEO of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, warned Jezebel that the Alabama ruling will have “profound implications far beyond Alabama’s borders.”

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin