Republican debate: Indian American Nikki Haley calls for respectful approach to abortion


Putting forth her views on subjects pertaining to her country and beyond at the first Republican presidential primary debate, former South Carolina Governor and Indian American Nikki Haley, who has entered the fray for the White House, called for a “respectful” approach in an effort to find common ground on the subject of abortion.

Eight Republicans, who have qualified for the party’s first 2024 presidential primary debate Wednesday night featured two leaders of Indian origin — Indian American Vivek Ramaswamy, the youngest Presidential candidate from the Republican Party and Nikki Haley, who served as the US ambassador to the United Nations and is the first woman candidate of Indian origin in the race for the US presidential election next year.

The other candidates include Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Vice-President Mike Pence, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who has positioned himself as a Trump critic.

Abortion was expected to be a key debate topic among Republicans, who are divided on a number of issues going into the 2024 election but support abortion restrictions, according to CNN.

“We need to stop demonising this issue,” Haley told Fox News moderator Martha MacCallum.

While noting that her husband was adopted and that she had trouble having her own children, Haley said the topic is personal to her.

She said a consensus should be reached on whether a federal abortion ban be enforced, CNN reported.

“Can’t we all agree that we should ban late-term abortions?” she asked. “Can’t we all agree that we should encourage adoptions? Can’t we all agree that doctors and nurses who don’t believe in abortions shouldn’t have to perform them? Can’t we all agree that contraception should be available? And can’t we all agree that we are not going to put a woman in jail or give her the death penalty if she gets an abortion?”

Challenging Haley on the abortion issue, former VP Pence said, “It will take unapologetic leadership that stands on principle and expresses compassion.”

Advocating a ban on abortions in every state after 15 weeks, he pledged to put such a ban into effect if elected President.

To that, Haley told Pence to “be honest with the American people”, according to CNN.

“No Republican president can ban abortions any more than a Democrat president can ban all those state laws,” she said, adding, “Don’t make women feel like they have to decide on this issue when you know we don’t have 60 Senate votes in the House.”

Despite passing federal restrictions on the procedure in previous years when they were in power, the majority of Republicans, even among the most ardent opponents of abortion, in interviews rejected the idea of Congress pursuing a national ban, saying the leadership has no plans on the horizon to make it a centrepiece of their agenda.

Former President Donald Trump, who is currently leading in both national and early state surveys, said earlier he would not participate in the Milwaukee debate and also urged his opponents to do the same.

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