In the wake of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) on Sunday shrugged off the dire consequences by repeatedly claiming that this will simply mean states get to decide on their residents’ access to abortion.
On Friday, Supreme Court justices voted 5-4 to reject Roe, and 6-3 along party lines to uphold Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban in the underlying case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas also urged the Court to revise other landmark decisions that protect rights to same-sex marriage, conducting private sex acts and access to contraception.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision, Arkansas’ trigger law went into effect, banning abortions except if the pregnant person’s life is in danger. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. Those who perform abortions in the state face up to 10 years in prison.
Appearing on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press,” Hutchinson said he “preferred a different outcome” when asked about his state’s abortion ban lacking an exception for cases of rape and incest. The Arkansas governor also insisted that rights to contraception and same-sex marriage are not at risk, before going on to argue that the Supreme Court’s ruling was “very appropriate” because each state, in his estimation, supposedly has different circumstances when it comes to the need for abortion access.
“When you’re saving life, that’s an appropriate role of the state. And that’s what the courts have said the states can determine,” Hutchinson said. “Other states might make a different judgment. That’s why we have elections. That’s why we have elected representatives to make these best judgments pertaining to life.”
Hutchinson was then asked about former Vice President Mike Pence’s call for a national abortion ban. Hutchinson reiterated his support for states to dictate their citizens’ right to abortion.
“I don’t believe that we ought to go back to saying there ought to be a national law that’s passed,” Hutchinson said. “We fought for 50 years to have this returned to the states. We’ve won that battle. It’s back to the states. Let’s let it be resolved there.”
Noem similarly refused to engage on the life-threatening consequences that the overturn of Roe poses during an interview on ABC News. Shortly after Roe was overturned on Friday, South Dakota passed a trigger law that bans abortions except in cases to save a mother’s life. The state’s law also makes it a felony to perform abortions.
After praising the Supreme Court’s ruling as giving authority back to states when it comes to abortion access, Noem was asked about the American Medical Association’s condemnation of the decision as a violation of patients’ rights in that it ends access to safe abortions.
Noem replied that she views patients’ rights extending to the womb, before she promoted a website in her state that supposedly offers financial support to people during their pregnancy and helps connect them with adoptive families if they choose to give their baby up for adoption.
“But we want to help support these mothers,” Noem said. “I think we can do better in this country making sure we’re walking alongside them in these situations and making sure that they do have the type of health care and the support financially that they need.”
Noem touted the same website again before pivoting to attacking President Biden on the economy.
Asked to get back on track with regard to abortion, Noem griped about what she called “sensational pundit commentary” on the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“Look at the fact that what the Supreme Court did was fix a wrong decision that was made many years ago and now give the power back to the states,” Noem said.
Later in the interview, Noem said she doesn’t believe that people who take medication for abortion should be prosecuted, but said that doctors who provide the medication should be prosecuted.
Pressed on her thoughts about constituents traveling to another state to get an abortion, Noem replied that matter is not currently addressed in her state’s statute.
“And so I think that’s things that there will be debates about. But also we’re having lots of debates in South Dakota,” Noem said, before once again complaining about the Biden administration and inflation.
Days after the overturn of Roe, at least eight states have outlawed abortion and 26 states are expected to ban or pose more severe restrictions on the procedure in the coming weeks, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Trigger laws banning abortions were already in place prior to the high court’s overturn of Roe, prompting abortion providers to immediately halt offering the procedure shortly after the decision was released on Friday.
In response to the decision, President Biden announced that he will be directing the Department of Health and Human Services to protect access to abortion pills and “take steps to make sure these medications are available to the fullest extent possible.” The President also vowed that his administration would fight any effort by anti-abortion state lawmakers to ban people from traveling to other states to get an abortion.
Prior to the overturn of Roe, patients who sought abortions and live in red states have been left to consider whether they are willing to travel hundreds of miles out of state to undergo the procedure. Some red states moved to propose copycat laws following the Supreme Court’s decision last year allowing Texas’ ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy to stand.
When the draft opinion of the ruling leaked last month, many blue states moved to pass laws to become abortion safe havens by expanding access to the procedure and offering new protections for providers and patients.