Gov. Kristi Noem Announces Two Pro-Life Bills to Protect the Unborn

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem gives her first State of the State address in Pierre, S.D., Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019.
James Nord/AP Photo

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) on Friday announced two pro-life bills to protect the unborn, making the announcement on the same day as the 49th annual March for Life.

The first proposed bill would prohibit abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detectable, and the second would specifically prohibit chemical abortion by telemedicine in South Dakota.

“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,” Noem said in a statement, expressing hope that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade this term.

“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,” she added.

The press release of the announcement notes that Noem previewed her intention to sign heartbeat legislation when she “directed her Unborn Child Advocate to review South Dakota laws and ensure that we have the strongest pro-life laws on the books in South Dakota.”

Similarly, Noem has already taken action to block telemedicine abortions via executive order, but this would codify it into law. Specifically a draft of the telemedicine abortion legislation prohibits chemical abortion by telemedicine, “to provide a penalty thereof, to increase the penalty for the unlicensed practice of medicine when performing a medical abortion, and to declare an emergency.”

It continues: 

Any person who practices medicine, osteopathy, or any of the branches thereof without a license, certificate, or permit issued by the board is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Any person who practices medicine, osteopathy, or any of the branches thereof without a license, certificate, or permit issued by the board and prescribes medicine in order to induce a medical abortion, as defined by Section 4 of this Act, is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

The draft heartbeat legislation reads in part, “Except as provided by sections 5 and 6 of this Act, an abortion may not be performed or induced on a pregnant woman unless the physician has determined whether the woman’s unborn child has a detectable fetal heartbeat.”

Noem signed eight pro-life pieces of legislation into law last year, including one banning abortions based on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

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