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Republicans reject governor's 'fetal heartbeat' abortion ban

Joshua Haiar
House Speaker Spencer Gosch, Republican-District 23, was among the representatives who declined to introduce Governor Noem's bill.

Republican lawmakers refused to introduce Governor Kristi Noem’s proposal to ban abortion after 6 weeks.

Republican lawmakers say the proposal came too close to the bill introduction deadline.

Wednesday, Feb. 2, is the last day for bill introductions. House Majority Leader Kent Peterson, R- Salem, announced announced the governor’s bill, but 26 seconds later the motion died for lack of a second.

Republican lawmakers have rejected abortion restrictions in the past for fear of jeopardizing pending litigation of a South Dakota case in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Governor Kristi Noem says the bill was written to hold up in court.

“The heartbeat bill, we’ve been doing research on it for months and months ever since Texas passed their legislation,” Noem says. “We also worked with people to make changes to the bill to make it withstand a court challenge and to address the specific situation here in South Dakota. I don’t know, the action that the committee members are taking, and that the leadership is taking they’ll have to answer for.”

House Lawmakers reject introducing Governor Kristi Noem's bill to ban abortion after 6 weeks

Noem says she was not expecting Republican leadership to deny a hearing on her bill.

However, Speaker of the House Spencer Gosch says the vote spoke to the governor’s approach.

“Legislators are the ones that are allowed to introduce bills. That’s it. You can propose language, but we are the ones that have to say yes or no, up or down, this is a bill," Gosch says. "There wasn’t a bill rejected today, there was language rejected today. They showed up late to the game, last minute—even last hour type stuff—and it didn’t pass. Simple as that.”

House lawmakers did introduce Noem’s bill to ban medication abortions outside of a licensed abortion facility. This bill would codify an executive order Noem issued last year, which is being challenged in court.

The head of a prominent anti-abortion group says it did not support Gov. Noem’s proposed 6-week abortion ban because it could negatively affect a South Dakota case in federal court.

Dale Bartscher is the Executive Director of South Dakota Right To Life. He says their number one goal is the case Planned Parenthood verses Noem.

“We believe that the passage of a Texas-style heartbeat bill will moot the litigation we currently have in the 8th circuit court,” Bartscher says. “For that reason we cannot support a Texas-style heartbeat bill verbiage. That’s what the draft was. So, we’re waiting for her bill to drop to see if she’s altered it and we can get behind it and support it. Support a heartbeat bill.”

Thursday is the last day to introduce bills for this legislative session.

However, Republicans have a super majority in both chambers and can suspend the rules to introduce any legislation.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.