Nikki Haley tells Republicans to ‘face reality’ on abortion

Nikki Haley used her personal struggle with fertility to emphasize her pro-life stance as she tackled the abortion issue in a major policy speech on Tuesday where she called on Republicans to face ‘reality’ when it comes to the controversial issue.

Her remarks were designed to appeal to moderate voters as many in the Republican Party have expressed concern that some abortion laws being passed – like the ban on abortions after 12 weeks that Ron DeSantis signed in Florida – are too restrictive and will turn off the swing voters who will decide the next election.

As the issue divides the Republican Party, Haley called for consensus and a ‘constructive conversation’ on the matter.

Haley, speaking at the headquarters of the influential pro-life group Susan B. Anthony, described herself as ‘pro life.’ 

‘I am unapologetic, or unhesitating about it,’ the Republican presidential candidate said. ‘I want to save as many lives and help as many moms as possible.’

Haley, the only declared female Republican presidential candidate, said her party has ‘to face this reality. The pro-life laws that have passed in strongly Republican states will not be approved at the federal level. That’s just a fact.’

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley called for a 'constructive conversation' on abortion as she courts moderate voters

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley called for a ‘constructive conversation’ on abortion as she courts moderate voters

Florida is one of about a dozen states with the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. Lawsuits are ongoing throughout the country after a wave of bans was passed after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. 

A recent CBS News poll showed that 58% of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases and that includes 62% of independent voters and 29% of Republicans. 

Haley called for a ‘constructive conversation about where we go from here in our divided country.’

‘This shouldn’t be about one movement winning, and another one losing,’ she said. ‘This shouldn’t be about picking sides, scoring points, or stoking outrage. It’s about saving babies and supporting moms.’

But she didn’t say at what point in a pregnancy she supports an abortion taking place and she has thus far avoid attaching herself to any specific proposal.

In February, she told NBC’s Today Show: ‘We need consensus on this because I want to save as many babies as possible and I want to support as many moms as possible. Is that consensus 15 weeks? Is it ten weeks? Is it six weeks? I don’t know what that is, but we need to figure this out for the good of these babies and for the good of the moms.’ 

She didn’t offer any stronger details on Tuesday. But, in her remarks, she made the issue personal, describing how her husband Michael was adopted and she was grateful his parents chose life.

‘Every day is a blessing because someone gave him life,’ she said. ‘Every day is a blessing because a family loved and raised him under difficult conditions.’

She also described how the couple struggled with fertility issues before having son Nalin and daughter Rena.

‘Michael and I struggled to have children of our own. I had many challenges as a teenager, and in my college years. I went through numerous surgeries. When Michael and I were married, I couldn’t wait to be a mom. But what happened so easily for many of my friends, was not my family. We went through countless sessions of fertility treatments,’ she said.

‘Every day I wake up and see or speak to my two children. I feel blessed. The greatest job I’ve ever had, is being there mom,’ she said.

Nikki Haley with (from right) her husband Michael, son Nalin, daughter Rena, and Rena's now husband Josh at Haley's presidential announcement in February

Nikki Haley with (from right) her husband Michael, son Nalin, daughter Rena, and Rena’s now husband Josh at Haley’s presidential announcement in February

In her remarks, Haley outlined areas she believes Americans can find consensus: making adoptions easier, not punishing a woman for having an abortion, not forcing medical personnel to go against their personal beliefs to provide abortion, make contraception more available, and ban late-term abortions.

In her call for a calm conversation, she blasted President Joe Biden for stirring the pot on the issue.

She said he promotes division instead of trying to bring people together.

‘That’s not leadership. It’s the it’s more partisanship of the worst kind of pro life political leaders and candidates must not put up with being demonized. We should call out the extremism on the left,’ she said.

Democrats see abortion as a winning issue for their party. In the 2022 midterm election, the abortion issue rallied voters and kept Democrats in control of the Senate. In the House, Republicans won a small, five-seat majority. 

Haley, in her remarks, was careful to stay away from controversy. She focused on a middle path, offering compassion and understanding to both sides of the issue.

‘Most people have a story that has brought them to their views about abortion. It could be your personal experience. It could be a trauma that a family member or friend endured. It could be a moral conviction. It could be our concerns about our daughters and their future,’ she said. 

And she then shared her story.

Nikki Haley at her first inauguration for governor of South Carolina in 2011 with husband Michael and son Nalin and daughter Rena

Nikki Haley at her first inauguration for governor of South Carolina in 2011 with husband Michael and son Nalin and daughter Rena

Haley also criticized those who push for specific positions on abortion. 

‘How many weeks are you for? How many exceptions are you for and the list goes on. But these questions missed the point if the goal is about saving as many lives as possible. You don’t save any lives,’ she said.

She concluded by calling on Americans to come together.

‘Let us treat it as the important and deeply personal issue that it is. Let’s discuss it in a way that allows Americans to show love for one another not judgment or contempt. And let’s find a consensus that allows us to save as many babies as we can, while supporting women in difficult situations.’ 

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