Ever since Roe v. Wade bit the dust, Republicans have been struggling to find a position on abortion that doesn't hugely antagonize about two-thirds of the voters and yet keeps their base happy. Nikki Haley thinks she has found the magic formula. She says the Republicans lack 60 seats in the Senate to break a filibuster, so as president she couldn't do anything on the issue, next question, please. The next question ought to be: "Suppose the Republicans pick up two seats in the Senate and hold the House. Then they abolish the filibuster and pass a nationwide ban of all abortions, except maybe to save the life of the mother. Would you sign or veto it?" But no one has asked that of her and she would probably desperately evade the question if asked. This way she can go around saying: "I'm pro-life" and she thinks she won't scare women. Jennifer Nassour, the former head of the Massachusetts Republican Party (yes, Virginia, the MAGOP exists), said: "She's the only leader who can take such a divisive issue and bring everyone together on it." Excuse us? She can say that there aren't 60 Republicans in the Senate now and everyone is happy? We think not.
Unfortunately for Haley, she has a track record that is a wee bit different than what she is saying now. In 2005, as a state representative, she voted for a bill that would grant a zygote full constitutional rights and due process. That would mean that intentionally killing a zygote would be murder, a zygote could inherit property (under the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act), and a zygote would need a passport to travel internationally to prevent every pregnant woman from being guilty of human trafficking. Imagine immigration or customs officials saying: "Excuse me, ma'am, but do you happen to be pregnant?" We prefer not to imagine it. The bill didn't pass, so in 2009, she sponsored another bill that would declare that life (and personhood) begins when the sperm makes it into the egg. This is a definition that some Christians use, but not all. Other religions have other ideas. Judaism, for example, says that life begins when the baby takes its first breath outside the mother. Before that, the fetus is simply part of the mother, like her heart. Needless to say, the bill Haley sponsored would also make aborting a zygote or fetus murder. It might even make a miscarriage manslaughter, if the mother did something that might have caused the miscarriage, like playing basketball (with Doug Burgum?).
When speaking to the Susan B. Anthony anti-abortion group this past April on the trail, Haley said: "I voted for every pro-life bill that came before me." After becoming governor, she backed a bill that would grant a fetus that survived an abortion the right to full life-saving medical care. She also signed a bill banning insurance companies from covering abortion under their standard policies, even if they just want to make their policies more attractive to potential customers (i.e., for business reasons). She also signed a 20-week abortion law whose backers said this was the first step to banning all abortions in America.
In short, Haley's current "compromise" position of "there aren't 60 votes, so next question, please," is an attempt to hide her true position (which she obviously knows very well) from the voters. Given her past actions, there is little doubt that if Congress passed a bill banning (almost) all abortions, as president she would sign it. But her hope is that the Republican base accepts her passing the buck to the Democrats and the Senate, and then votes for her in the general election if she gets the nomination. We very much doubt this will work. (V)