South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) on Sunday struggled to defend her state’s abortion ban, which only excludes cases where the pregnant’s person’s life is at risk, when asked about a news story about a child who is traveling across state lines to obtain an abortion.
Shortly after Roe v. Wade was overturned late last month, South Dakota passed a law that bans abortions except in cases when it is necessary to save a mother’s life. It does not allow abortion in cases involving incest or rape. The state’s law also makes it a felony to perform an abortion.
During an interview on CNN, Noem was pressed on a report in the Indianapolis Star that detailed a call that an Indianapolis-based obstetrician-gynecologist received from a doctor who works with victims of child abuse in Ohio, a state that outlawed any abortion after six weeks just hours after Roe was overturned late last month. The doctor in Ohio had a 10-year-old patient who was six weeks pregnant. The child was reportedly on her way to receive care from the Indianapolis-based doctor soon after the call. Abortion is legal in Indiana for now, but the state may soon impose similar restrictions.
Asked whether South Dakota would go forward in forcing a 10-year-old in the same situation to give birth, Noem said she finds the child’s scenario to be a “tragic story” without answering the question.
“What’s incredible is that nobody’s talking about the pervert, horrible and deranged individual that raped a 10-year-old. And what is it? What are we doing about that? What are we doing about those individuals that do this to these children?” Noem said.
CNN anchor Dana Bash interjected as Noem continued to dodge the question. Bash stressed that the 10-year-old who crossed state lines to obtain an abortion is a girl, not a woman, before asking Noem about whether a child should give birth to a child.
Noem once again deflected.
“And every single life — every single life is precious,” Noem said. “This tragedy is horrific. I can’t even imagine. I have never had anybody in my family or myself gone through anything like this. I can’t even imagine. But, in South Dakota, the law today is that the abortions are illegal, except to save the life of the mother.”
Pressed again on the details of the Indianapolis Star story, Noem claimed that she is never okay with that and that the story will “keep me up at night.”
Bash then asked Noem if she would be willing to support a change to state law on abortion to make an exception for a child who becomes pregnant as a result of abuse.
Noem continued to pivot away from the question, saying that the situation “breaks my heart” as a mother and grandmother.
“Got a 1-year-old little granddaughter named Ms. Addie. I can’t even imagine,” Noem said. “What I would say is, I don’t believe a tragic situation should be perpetuated by another tragedy. And so there’s more that we have got to do to make sure that we really are living a life that says every life is precious, especially innocent lives that have been shattered, like that 10-year-old girl.”
Asked whether she considers the case of the pregnant 10-year-old to be a situation where the mother’s life is at risk, Noem avoided answering the question by saying that situation is one where the doctors and loved ones would have to make decisions for that family.
“That’s what’s interesting about the time we live in right now, is every state will have different laws on the books,” Noem said. “The decisions will be made by the legislators that are closest to the people. That’s appropriate. It’s the way our Constitution intended.”
Noem’s latest remarks come a week after she refused to engage on the life-threatening consequences that the overturn of Roe poses during an interview on ABC News.
After promoting a website in her state that supposedly offers financial support to people during their pregnancy, Noem complained about what she called “sensational pundit commentary” on the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Asked about the prospect of her constituents traveling to another state to obtain an abortion, Noem replied that the situation 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 pivoting to complaining about the Biden administration and inflation.
Watch Noem’s remarks below: