Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has announced the proposal of two new bills in her state that will protect unborn life as the nation awaits the decision of the Supreme Court in Dobbs. v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that could overturn Roe v. Wade. The two bills could create a legislative ban of almost all abortions in South Dakota.
Noem announced the bills last Friday as the “March for Life” assembly of tens of thousands of pro-life advocates went on in Washington. One bill prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat is medically detected, usually at around the sixth week of pregnancy. The other would ban the distribution of chemical abortion pills through the mail. Last year, the governor previously stopped abortion consultations by telemedicine through an executive order.
Noem said in a press release that she hopes the Supreme Court will allow states to protect every unborn life, and the bills being proposed will ensure that unborn babies and their mothers are protected in her state.
Noem has reportedly “previewed” the bills for several weeks with an enthusiastic response from Republicans who hold a substantial majority in the South Dakota legislature.
The South Dakota Heartbeat law would be similar to the one passed last year in Texas in that it will be designed to withstand many legal challenges because of its enforcement mechanism. The South Dakota law would give the power to sue abortion providers breaking the law to private citizens rather than state officials.
The state has already enacted laws that protect unborn life, including requiring anyone seeking an abortion to undergo counseling that includes information about adoption and other material discouraging abortion in general.
South Dakota has also enacted a law requiring a 72-hour waiting period before a final abortion procedure. It also has prohibited state public funds for abortions and limited insurance companies from covering abortion procedures. Minor children cannot receive an abortion without parental notification.
Noem has said that South Dakota’s existing pro-life laws have led to a reduction of abortions in the last decade in the state by 80 percent.
South Dakota also enacted a “trigger law” in 2005 that will automatically declare almost all abortions illegal if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.