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Noem wants to further regulate abortion in the state

Gov. Kristi Noem delivers her 2022 State of the State speech.
Gov. Kristi Noem delivers her 2022 State of the State speech.

Governor Kristi Noem wants to further restrict abortion access in the state, she announced Tuesday during her State of the State speech at the Capitol in Pierre.

South Dakota has an automatic trigger for an abortion ban if the U.S. Supreme Court's 1972 decision protecting abortion rights, known as Roe v. Wade, is overturned.

Until then, Noem wants to keep chipping away at abortion access. There is one licensed facility in the state that performs the procedure.

During her State of the State address, she called for a law banning telemedicine abortions, which use pills to end pregnancies. She signed an executive order banning the practice last year.

Noem also wants to ban abortions after six weeks.

"Science tells us that an unborn child’s heartbeat starts six weeks after conception," she said. "And any abortion after that point stops that heartbeat, stops that life, stops that gift from God."

Nationally, there is debate about whether the sounds detected at six weeks can accurately be described as heartbeats. The heart is not fully formed at that stage of development.

Meanwhile, the number of abortions performed in South Dakota is down. Noem said abortions have decreased 80 percent in the past decade.

Democratic Rep. Erin Healy said that's because the state overregulates abortion, making it difficult to access.

"I'm wondering why we need to take our time out of a busy, short session to focus on abortion issues any longer," Healy said. "What I think we need to be focusing on is access to birth control and good health care, sex education and the fact that we should be trusting the provider-patient relationship."

The governor also outlined other proposals, including blocking the teaching of certain race-related concepts in education. She wants to prevent transgender girls from playing in girls' sports. Noem also wants to allow a moment of silence, which could include prayer, in public schools.

Noem is also proposing eliminating fees for filing and renewing business licenses, eliminating fees for concealed-carry gun licenses, having the state pay for federal background checks for gun owners, and repealing the state tax on bingo games.

The governor's State of the State address kicks off the legislative session every year. Legislators will debate Noem's proposals—as well as their own bills—over the next 10 weeks.

2022 State of the State Address - South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem

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.