South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem defended her state’s criminalization of abortions even in the case of “horrific” child rape during a Sunday appearance on CNN.
Asked multiple times by CNN’s Dana Bash whether South Dakota would force minors to cross state lines to terminate pregnancies resulting from rape, as a 10-year-old recently had to in Ohio, Noem deflected.
“What’s incredible is that nobody’s talking about the pevert, horrible and deranged individual that raped a 10-year-old, and what are we doing about that?” Noem replied.
When Bash reiterated her question, the governor said: “This tragedy is horrific, I can’t even imagine, I’ve never had anybody in my family or myself gone through anything like this… but in South Dakota, the law today is that abortions are illegal except to save the life of the mother.”
Bash then pointedly asked if she would “be okay with a 10-year-old girl having to have a baby,” to which Noem replied: “No, I’m never okay with that. In fact, that story will keep me up at night.”
But despite saying that the situation “breaks my heart,” Noem said she would not attempt to add an exception for such victims to her state’s draconian policy. “I don’t believe a tragic situation should be perpetuated by another tragedy,” she said, repeating a phrase often deployed by anti-abortion activists.
As it now stands, South Dakota only permits abortion when carrying a pregnancy to term would endanger the life of the mother. Since giving birth would undoubtedly pose a danger to any child, said Bash, “Would you consider that the life of a mother at risk?”
Noem did not directly answer, saying that the decision is up to “the doctors, the family, the individuals closest to that [situation]” and “the legislators closest to the people” they govern.
South Dakota is one of several states with “trigger laws” set to go into immediate effect following the repeal of Roe v. Wade. Under House Bill 1318, last week’s SCOTUS decision codified the banning of abortion by telemedicine and ramped up punishments for the unlicensed practice of medicine when administering a medical abortion in the state. With the exception of “[preserving] the life of a pregnant female,” abortion is now illegal in South Dakota.
Trigger laws also went into effect in Arkansas, Wisconsin and Missouri, with more states to follow in the coming week.