Nikki Haley responds to controversial Alabama court ruling: 'Embryos, to me, are babies'

WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said Tuesday that she agreed with the Alabama Supreme Court's contention that frozen embryos created through in-vitro fertilization are children.

“Embryos, to me, are babies,” Haley told NBC News. “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."

About 2% of births a year in the U.S. involve IVF, a process by which multiple eggs are harvested, fertilized and implanted to create a pregnancy.The Alabama Supreme Court ruled Friday that IVF embryos are "extrauterine children" and legally protected like any other child.

IVF advocates have raised concerns that the Alabama court’s ruling could have far-reaching implications for millions of Americans seeking to have children. Namely, they have argued that the decision is likely to halt most IVF work in Alabama because doctors may be afraid that mishandling an embryo could result in homicide charges.

When asked about the potential consequences of the decision for parents, Haley called for a more nuanced approach and referenced her experience using artificial insemination to have her son, Nalin Haley. However, she still expressed support for the court's main finding.

“We have to have those conversations. That's incredibly personal. It's incredibly sensitive,” Haley said. “I know that when my doctor came in, we knew what was possible and what wasn't."

Artificial insemination is different than IVF. It does not prompt the same legal questions as handling embryos in a lab.

Haley has talked openly about her struggle to have children while on the campaign trail, particularly in relation to the issue of abortion. She has long supported wide-reaching restrictions on abortion access, but Haley has also argued that politicians need to “quit demonizing that issue.” The former South Carolina governor has said she would not push for national abortion ban unless she had the votes in Congress to pass a measure.

Medical providers in Alabama have already started limiting IVF treatments in the wake of the state Supreme Court's decision. The University of Alabama Birmingham in a statement on Wednesday said it's Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility will pause the treatments as officials evaluate their options.

Contributing: Associated Press; Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nikki Haley responds to Alabama court ruling: 'Embryos, to me, are babies'