South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announces two pro-life bills

"Every human life is unique and beautiful from the moment it is conceived," Gov. Noem said.

Updated: January 23, 2022 - 4:18pm

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South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) announced two bills that she says will be "the strongest pro-life laws on the books" in the state. One would ban abortion after a heartbeat is detected in the fetus, and the other would end telemedicine abortions.

"Every human life is unique and beautiful from the moment it is conceived. Every life is worthy of our protection, worthy of the right to live," Gov. Noem said in a press release on Friday.

Her announcement of the new legislation coincided with the 2022 March for Life rally. Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., as justices are weighing a challenge to Roe v. Wade. 

“We hope that this year’s March for Life will be the last and that the Supreme Court will finally protect every unborn life. But until that comes to pass, these bills will ensure that both unborn children and their mothers are protected in South Dakota," Noem said.

Similar to the Texas law banning abortions after a heartbeat can be detected, the draft of Noem's legislation would allow private civil lawsuits against a person who performs or assists the performance of an abortion after a heartbeat can be detected, which is typically around 6 weeks.

Noem issued an executive order blocking telemedicine abortions last year. The new legislation strengthens the ban. Under the new law, women will be unable to receive an abortion pill over the phone or the internet, and will be forced to go to their health care provider in person. The Republican governor cited a study showing that women who undergo chemical abortions are four times more likely to go to the emergency room after the procedure.

Abortions in South Dakota have declined by more than 80% over the past decade, Noem said.

"As soon as the High Court overturns Roe v. Wade, our state laws already in place should protect every unborn South Dakota child. But until then, we can take steps to protect South Dakota children today. And we will do it from the very first heartbeat of every child," she reiterated her commitment to the unborn in another press release Friday.

The ACLU and Planned Parenthood on Thursday announced a lawsuit challenging another pro-life rule created under Noem in South Dakota. The regulation, which goes into effect Jan. 27, will require a patient to visit their healthcare provider three times before receiving an abortion.