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Noem says doctors, not pregnant mothers, should be prosecuted following Supreme Court abortion ruling

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, on Sunday praised the recent Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade as a decision that follows the science, asserting that doctors who perform abortions, and not vulnerable women in crisis situations, should be the ones prosecuted going forward. 

Noem, who appeared on multiple cable television programs Sunday morning, is the leader of one of 13 states with trigger laws banning all abortions except in cases to save the life of the pregnant mother that took effect following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. 

“It’s still about rights and liberties,” Noem said on “Fox & Friends” Sunday about the Supreme Court ruling. “It’s about every single right, every single life having the right to live. And technology has developed. Science has revealed more and more of what’s going on in the womb. We know more today than we did 15 or 20 years ago. I think it’s incredibly important that we use that science to recognize that every single life is precious and that it deserves to be protected under the United States Constitution.” 

In an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Noem pointed to the science in defending the Supreme Court’s ruling. “I’d encourage them to continue to follow the science, to continue to follow what we know to be true today with the technology that’s been advanced,” Noem said, referring to women who do not feel like either the mother or the unborn child is a victim in an abortion. 

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“And to really look at the Supreme Court decision for what it is,” she said. “Take the sensational pundit commentary out of it and 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. What they said is that the Constitution does not guarantee a right to an abortion. That means that each state will make the decision for themselves on what their laws look like and that those women have an opportunity to speak to their elected officials there closer to home to make sure that their laws reflect what they value.”

ABC host Martha Raddatz pointed to the American Medical Association’s statement calling the Supreme Court decision a “brazen violation of patients’ rights,” saying that “states that end legal abortion will not end abortion, they will end safe abortion, risking devastating consequences, including patients’ lives.”

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Noem countered that she’s spoken to doctors who refer to unborn babies as patients too. 

“Well, what’s interesting to me, Martha, is that I’ve talked to many doctors who say when they do procedures on babies in the womb, when they work on babies that have not been born yet, that those babies are patients. So they define them as patients,” Noem said. “And if they defend patients’ rights, they should be defining and defending that life that’s in the womb as well. And it is an individual and every life has value.”

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks during the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual convention on May 27, 2022, in Houston, Texas. 

Noem said Planned Parenthood had already stopped abortions in South Dakota weeks before Roe v. Wade was overturned. 

Then after the ruling, the trigger law already on the books made abortions illegal except to save the life of a mother, with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

“And so that went into effect. And what we will do is continue to focus on not punishing mothers or women,” Noem said. “But what we will do is focus on those doctors who knowingly break the law to perform abortions in the state of South Dakota.” 

Noem is calling for a special legislative session to launch debate on how the state can best support mothers. The governor launched a website – life.sd.gov – to get resources to individuals with unplanned pregnancies or in crisis situations to coordinate financial assistance, health care and nonprofit support. 

Protesters gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 25, 2022, in Washington in the wake of the decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

Noem said the website also provides resources for families wanting to put babies up for adoption. 

“I think we’ll continue to have those debates on how we can support these mothers and what it means to really make sure that we’re not prosecuting mothers ever in a situation like this when it comes to abortion,” Noem told CBS “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan. “That we’ll always be focused toward those doctors who knowingly break the law to perform abortions in our state.”   

The South Dakota governor also criticized telemedicine abortions, or cases where doctors or medical providers subscribe abortion pills by phone or virtually and mail them to patients. Brennan pointed out that the Biden Justice Department has said it will work to ensure women have access to the abortion pill despite Roe v. Wade being overturned. 

“These are very dangerous medical procedures,” Noem said. “A woman is five times more likely to end up in an emergency room if they’re utilizing this kind of method for an abortion…”

“This is an FDA approved drug,” Brennan interjected. 

Noem also raised concerns about the safety of telemedicine abortions on ABC, noting how often there is no physician supervision. 

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