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Republican Gov. Kristi Noem ducked and dodged Sunday morning when asked if South Dakota would force a raped 10-year-old to give birth—eventually suggesting that “tragic situation” shouldn’t change her state’s restrictive abortion laws.
“The law today is that abortions are illegal except to save the life of the mother,” Noem told anchor Dana Bash on CNN’s State of the Union.
Bash had pressed Noem about the case of a 10-year-old girl in Ohio who was denied an abortion because she was three days past the state’s six-week abortion ban. The girl had to travel to Indiana for the procedure, according to the Indianapolis Star.
“Because this was a trigger law that was passed before you became governor, I want you to be clear, will the state of South Dakota going forward force a 10-year-old in that very same situation to have a baby?” Bash asked.
Noem began by avoiding the direct question, instead focusing on the little girl’s rapist.
“What’s incredible is that nobody's talking about the pervert, horrible and deranged individual that raped a 10 year old,” Noem said. “What are we doing about that?”
Bash agreed with her but pointed out that women are ultimately the ones who get pregnant. She then continued to press the governor—who recently signed an executive order prohibiting telemedicine abortions as part of the state’s total abortion ban—on whether she was “okay with a 10-year-old girl having to have a baby.”
“No, I’m never okay with that. That story will keep me up at night. It breaks my heart,” Noem responded.
Bash tried again, asking if she would “change the law to have an exception for a situation like that?”
“I can’t even imagine. What I would say is I don’t believe a tragic situation should be perpetuated by another tragedy,” Noem finally said. “And so there’s more that we’ve got to do to make sure that we really are living a life that says every life is precious, especially innocent lives that have been shattered like that 10-year-old girl.”
South Dakota was one of the 13 states to enforce a “trigger law” banning abortions as soon as the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed the right to an abortion, and Noem has continued to try and spin South Dakota’s decisions by advertising state resources to help support pregnancies, whether wanted or not.
Bash concluded her questioning by asking Noem—who has not kept her political aspirations quiet, even as her star has faded as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ rises— the straightforward question: “Former President Trump may announce that he’s running as soon as this month. If he does, would you support him and would you like to be his running mate?”
“I think that there’s a lot of people out there who would like to be his running mate. I don’t operate in the hypothetical,” Noem sidestepped. “I would be shocked if he asked and right now, I’m just so focused on South Dakota.”