South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem says she plans to ban all abortions starting at six weeks of pregnancy
Gov. Kristi Noem told state lawmakers she looks forward to "all unborn lives" being protected.
"I am bringing legislation to ban all abortions once a heartbeat can be detected," she said.
Such legislation would bring the state in line with Texas, where abortions are banned at six weeks.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem called for banning "all abortions once a heartbeat can be detected" during her State of the State address on Tuesday, staking out a position that would bring her state in line with Texas on strict abortion restrictions.
"Science tells us that after conception, that any … child's heartbeat starts at six weeks," the Republican governor said during her State of the State address. "Any abortion at that point stops that heartbeat. It stops that life and it stops that gift from God. Today, I am asking all of you to protect the heartbeats of these unborn children. I am bringing legislation to ban all abortions once a heartbeat can be detected."
Noem is emerging as a leading voice in Republican culture wars that could position her for a possible 2024 presidential run, pushing restrictions on race-based teaching in schools and on transgender rights.
Noem's abortion pledge follows the passage of the Texas Heartbeat Act, which bans abortions after about six weeks — before many women know they're pregnant — and allows private citizens to enforce the law through civil lawsuits. The Supreme Court has refused to block the law but it's legal challenges continue.
After the law took effect in September, Noem began looking into how South Dakota laws stack up against it, tweeting that she directed the "Unborn Child Advocate" in her office to review the laws "to make sure we have the strongest pro-life laws on the books in SD." Abortions are currently unlawful in South Dakota after 22 weeks of gestation.
Noem is facing a more conservative primary challenger in her re-election campaign this year as speculation continues about her 2024 presidential ambitions. On Tuesday, she told lawmakers she looks forward to the day when "all unborn lives are protected."
When Roe v Wade is overturned, she said, South Dakota laws are ready to protect all unborn children. "But until then, we can still take steps to protect South Dakota children today," she said. "There's more we can do."
Noem also called for expanding access to adoption and foster care. And she asked legislators to ban telemedicine abortions in state law, following an executive order she signed last year. "Chemical abortions are dangerous and I'm asking all of you to take action to protect South Dakota women from this dangerous procedure," she said.
Noem was one of several governors to deliver a State of the State address on Tuesday. Among them was Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, another potential 2024 Republican contender, who signaled to reporters at a press conference that he was open to a ban on abortion 15 weeks into pregnancy.
"Having protections is something that makes a lot of sense," he told reporters.
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