South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem was challenged Sunday about her stance on exempting rape victims from her state's abortion ban after a 10-year-old girl, who was raped, was denied an abortion in Ohio.
The girl, who was six weeks and three days pregnant, was deemed ineligible to receive an abortion and had to travel to Indiana, where the ban has not yet taken effect, in order to have the procedure. The girl was denied an abortion in Ohio because the state bans the procedure six weeks into a woman's pregnancy when a fetal heartbeat might be detected.
CNN's State of The Union host Dana Bash asked Noem: "Will the state of South Dakota going forward force a 10-year-old in that very same situation to have a baby?"
The Republican governor didn't answer the question, and instead pointed out that "nobody's talking about the pervert, horrible and deranged individual that raped a 10-year-old."
Her remarks come after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a 1973 landmark decision that gave women the federal right to have an abortion, last month. The fall of Roe allows states to enact their so-called "trigger laws" to ban or restrict abortions because of pre-1973 provisions in their statute books.
South Dakota bans all abortions except when the mother's life is at risk. It is also one of the 13 states with trigger laws, and was among the first states to enact its law once Roe v. Wade was overturned.
In an attempt to get an answer from Noem, Bash then said: "...Our bodies are our bodies, and women are the ones who get pregnant. And, in this case, it wasn't a woman. It was a girl...should she have that baby?"
"Every single life is precious," Noem responded. "This tragedy is horrific. 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."
When asked whether she thinks that the life of the 10-year-old Ohio girl is at risk, the GOP governor said that it is a decision that should be made by a doctor and the family.
"That's what's interesting about the time we live in right now, is every state will have different laws on the books. The decisions will be made by the legislators that are closest to the people. That's appropriate. It's the way our Constitution intended," she added.
Though Noem said that she is "never OK" with a 10-year-old rape victim having a baby, she didn't answer Bash's question about whether or not her state would reconsider changing its abortion law.
"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," she replied.
Noem Holds Her Stance
"I just have never believed that having a tragedy or tragic situation happen to someone is a reason to have another tragedy occur," Noem responded. "I believe every life is precious...And we know so much more using technology and science than we did even 10, 15 years ago about what these babies go through, the pain that they feel in the womb, and will continue to make sure that those lives are protected."
A measure that was signed into law in South Dakota in 2005 also prohibits anyone from prescribing drugs "to procure an abortion."
According to the state's legislature, the law is "effective on the date that the states are recognized by the United States Supreme Court to have the authority to regulate or prohibit abortion at all stages of pregnancy."
Protests Outside Noem's Office
Meanwhile, on Friday, around 60 abortion-rights protesters rallied outside Noem's office in Sioux Falls to spread awareness about the implications of overturning Roe v. Wade, the Argus Leader reported.
One protester, Ashlynn Van Beek, said that she wants her daughter to make her own reproductive choices someday, adding that "children should not be forced to have children."
Update 7/3/22, 2:47 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional information.