Nikki Haley's Women's Rights Record Doesn't Bode Well For Her UN Role
President-elect Donald Trump has been announcing his picks for Cabinet positions and other government posts. Thus far, an obvious trend has emerged early: Trump seems to prefer working with men. Chief of Staff? Reince Preibus. Chief Strategist? Steve Bannon. Secretary of State? Probably Mitt Romney. Attorney General? Apparently, Sen. Jeff Sessions. Director of the C.I.A.? Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo. But with the announcement of Nikki Haley as his Ambassador to the United Nations, Trump has added at least one female to his testosterone-weighted roster. As the sole woman (as of now) in Trump's administration, many will be asking: what's Haley's record on women's rights? Update: In an official email from Trump's transition team Wednesday, the campaign announced that Trump plans to nominate Haley for the role. Haley formally accepted the offer Wednesday morning.
Haley's first major public comment on the topic of women's rights was a PR nightmare. In 2012, shortly after being elected governor of South Carolina, Haley appeared on The View and made the kind of remark even the best spin whizzes can't do much to fix. After Elisabeth Hasselback asked her about women's issues in politics, Haley responded that "women don't care about contraception." In a word: yeeks. Haley tried to walk back the statement, saying that they do care about contraception, but don't want the government involved in their decisions.
On the issue of abortion, Haley is in line with most of the Republican party in being pro-life. In May, Haley signed legislation that bans abortion after 20 weeks, with exceptions for women whose lives are put at risk by their pregnancies and in cases where the baby will not survive outside the womb. Similar laws are on the books in 17 other states, though three have been overturned in court. Haley has cited her husband as the main reason for her position. He was adopted as a toddler, and in her book Can't Is Not an Option, Haley writes, "I'm prolife because I got a chance to spend every day with the love of my life knowing that I am blessed that someone saved his life."
When it comes to maternity leave for working moms, South Carolina comes in low on the list of states offering benefits. While states are allowed to use unemployment funds to pay for family leave, South Carolina is not one of the 18 that have opted to do so. In addition, a study by WalletHub ranked the Palmetto State "one of the worst states in the country" if you're a working mom. In fairness to Haley, part of the problem stems from the copious poor and rural areas within South Carolina, places that don't offer much opportunity for anyone.
Women's rights have never been at the center of Haley's political career. She campaigned to be governor on the promise of holding government accountable, and after winning the race, Haley signed into law a bill she had sponsored while serving as a House representative, making legislative votes a matter of public record.
Prior to this week, Gov. Nikki Haley was probably best known for her response to the Emanuel AME tragedy in Charleston. After a shooter left nine African-Americans dead at the oldest black church in the city, Haley led South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag from government property. It remains to be seen what legacy she will leave, should she accept the position of Ambassador to the U.N.