Kristi Noem's Answer to Pregnant Rape Victims Is a Website

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s answer when asked what resources exist for pregnant women forced to give birth, including after they are raped or are victims of incest, amounts to: Go to our website.

During an appearance on ABC’s This Week, host Martha Raddatz pointedly asked the governor about her state and others with restrictive abortion laws: “The 14 states that have the most restrictive abortion laws, including South Dakota, invest the least in policies and programs for women and children. So what do you mean when you say these mothers will never be alone?” Raddatz was referring to a report from the non-partisan Commonwealth Fund, which found that the 14 states that heavily restrict abortion or had trigger laws that banned it as soon as the Supreme Court overruled Roe v Wade are also states with the worst outcomes in maternal and child health. And one reason these states have these poor outcomes is they are also states with the least investment in protecting at-risk populations, The Commonwealth Fund’s Sara Rosenbaum wrote.

Responding to Raddatz’s question, Noem said, “South Dakota is doing a lot to coordinate with nonprofits, with churches, and then also the state in a new way by launching this website.” She added that the legislature has “committed” to support these mothers. That non-binding commitment, Noem claimed, “is incredibly powerful.”

South Dakota, according to the CDC, has the sixth highest infant mortality rate in the nation as of 2020. Its trigger law banned abortion in all cases except to save the life of the mother, and it went into effect when the Supreme Court handed down its decision on Friday. The website Noem referenced, www.life.sd.gov, appears to direct pregnant people in need mostly to existing federal programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and federal affordable housing, in addition to a handful of non-profits, some which have eligibility requirements or provide a limited amount of free services. It’s also worth noting that nonprofits and churches could easily be overwhelmed by increased demand for assistance now that the procedure is illegal in the state.

Noem then tried to pivot to complain about inflation and energy prices, but Raddatz kept her on point. “I want to stick with abortion,” the anchor said. “You say every abortion always has two victims, the unborn child and the mother. What would you say to adult women in this country who do not feel they are in any way victims? That, in fact, they consider choices they make with their own bodies no one’s business but theirs and their doctor’s?”

Noem answered by saying she “encouraged 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, and to really look at the Supreme Court decision for what it is.”

“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.

When Radddatz asked whether women should be prosecuted for obtaining an abortion in another state where it is legal, Noem did not rule it out, despite saying earlier in the interview, “I don’t believe women should ever be prosecuted. I don’t believe that mothers in this situation should ever be prosecuted.”

“You know, that certainly isn’t addressed in our statute today,” Noem said of prosecuting out-of-state abortions. “And so I think that’s things that there will be debates about. But also we’re having lots of debates in South Dakota. How fundamentally our life has changed the last couple of years just with increased costs and inflation and what this administration is doing to every single family’s budget and life right now going on in this country.”

Raddatz’s next guest was Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who said that Noem’s argument amounts to allowing the government to decide when a pregnancy can be terminated. “Look, what she’s really saying is that when this decision is made, it should be made by the government. That the government should move in and the government should determine whether or not a pregnancy is forced to continue or whether or not a pregnancy can be terminated,” Warren said. “I believe, and it has been the constitutional right for women across this nation for nearly half a century, for the woman to be able the make that decision with her doctor, with her religious adviser, with her family, but not something that the government should be in the middle of.”

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