Haley Says ‘Embryos, to Me, Are Babies,’ in Response to Alabama Court Ruling - The World News

Haley Says ‘Embryos, to Me, Are Babies,’ in Response to Alabama Court Ruling

Nikki Haley told NBC News on Wednesday that she believed that embryos created through in vitro fertilization were “babies,” after the Alabama Supreme Court on Friday delivered a major ruling that raised legal questions about reproductive medicine and fertility care.

“Embryos, to me, are babies,” Ms. Haley said after an NBC correspondent, Ali Vitali, asked her if she agreed with the court that “embryos created through I.V.F. are considered children.”

Pressed on whether she was specifically referring to I.V.F.-created embryos, Ms. Haley recalled that she’d had her son through artificial insemination. “One thing is to save sperm or to save eggs, but when you talk about an embryo, you are talking about — to me, that’s a life,” she said, “and so I do see where that’s coming from when they talk about that.”

But she appeared to hedge when asked about the implications of the Alabama ruling, saying that questions about whether the decision could affect people seeking I.V.F. require “incredibly personal” conversations with doctors and patients.

When pushed on the question, Ms. Haley added: “This is one where we need to be incredibly respectful and sensitive about it.”

Ms. Haley has tried to walk a fine line in her presidential campaign on issues regarding reproductive medicine, specifically abortion access. While she has said that she personally supports bans on abortion, and that she would have signed a six-week abortion ban as governor of South Carolina, she has also tried to appeal to moderate voters by casting the issue as one that requires politicians to “find consensus.”

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled on Friday that frozen embryos in test tubes should be considered children, which could have a profound impact in the field of reproductive medicine by raising legal questions about fertility care options for prospective parents in Alabama and beyond.

The decision came in the appeals cases of couples whose frozen embryos were destroyed in 2020, after a hospital patient removed them from tanks of liquid nitrogen in Mobile, Ala., and accidentally dropped them on the floor.

Under standard medical protocol, in vitro fertilization involves extracting multiple eggs from a patient, fertilizing them to create embryos and then freezing them. Those embryos can later be transferred to maximize the chances of successful implantation and a full-term pregnancy.

But in determining that embryos are considered “children,” the Alabama Supreme Court has raised legal questions among some medical professionals about whether the process of handling embryos in this manner would break the law.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham health system said on Wednesday that it would pause in vitro fertilization treatments.

In her interview with NBC News, Ms. Haley said she would want to look at the specific legislation pertaining to the issue in Alabama, and elsewhere, saying that these were “sensitive subjects where the details matter.”

“When you see more women who are having trouble getting pregnant, and you see more women doing artificial and in vitro, those are conversations that we need to have,” she said. “But it’s also conversations where we need to have women and doctors involved in the conversation to say, ‘How do we want to handle this going forward?”

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