US candidate Haley sides with court ruling that embryos are babies

By Thomson Reuters Feb 21, 2024 | 3:08 PM

(Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said on Wednesday that she believed frozen embryos created through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) were babies, endorsing a controversial ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court.

That state’s high court said that frozen embryos in test tubes should be considered children, rattling doctors and patients in reproductive medicine as well as raising legal questions, U.S. media reported after Friday’s decision.

Haley, in an interview with NBC News, sided with the Alabama court.

“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.”

The former South Carolina governor said she had her son after using artificial insemination, a different procedure which does not involve embryos in a lab.

Haley is the last major 2024 Republican presidential challenger to frontrunner Donald Trump. The two will face off a third time on Saturday in her home state of South Carolina, with Haley again trailing in opinion polls but refusing to drop out.

Trump has not publicly mentioned the Alabama ruling. A representative for his campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The ruling was greeted by widespread shock in Alabama, which has one of the nation’s strictest abortion laws, according to news reports, with patients confused about whether to proceed with IVF and others wondering whether to move their embryos.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham paused in-vitro fertilization after the state supreme court ruling, due to fear of prosecution and lawsuits, a hospital representative said.

“This is exactly the type of chaos that we expected when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and paved the way for politicians to dictate some of the most personal decisions families can make,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday.

The Alabama ruling was the latest involving reproductive services after the U.S. Supreme Court in 2022 overturned its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that had recognized women’s constitutional right to abortion.

Republican candidates this election cycle largely steered clear of the abortion issue. The party’s underwhelming performance in the 2022 midterm elections was seen as voter backlash against the Roe v. Wade ruling.

Haley, the only Republican woman in the 2024 race, has urged Republicans to focus on finding consensus, rather than faulting those who favor abortion rights.

Trump has taken credit for appointing three right-wing justices to the Supreme Court, securing the majority needed to overturn Roe in the first place. But he has also avoided saying whether he would sign a national ban into law.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; editing by Jonathan Oatis)