Heartbeat bill not introduced

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Governor Kristi Noem says she’s “disappointed” after the South Dakota House State Affairs Committee declined to introduce the governor’s proposal to ban abortion in the state after a heartbeat is detectable.

According to a statement from Noem, lawmakers took “unprecedented action” during the Wednesday hearing.

“The South Dakota state legislature has always guaranteed that every bill gets a hearing, and that is something that I’ve always loved about our process. We have rules and an open process, and we play by those rules. To our knowledge, this is the first time in decades that a bill has been denied a hearing,” Noem said in a news release.

“South Dakota deserved to have a hearing on a bill to protect the heartbeats of unborn children. We can hear heartbeats at six weeks, but I’m disappointed this bill was not granted even one hearing.”

In the audio recording of the House State Affairs Committee, the lack of interest in debating this bill seems clear.

The heartbeat bill was the second of two bills that were to be introduced at the request of Gov. Noem. The first, a bill to prohibit telemedicine abortions, was introduced by committee chair Rep. Kent Peterson (R-Salem). A request for a motion to introduce was quickly taken up by Rep. Spencer Gosch (R-Glenham) and seconded just as quickly by Rep. Jon Hansen (R-Dell Rapids) before being approved for consideration.

The difference when the heartbeat bill came up was stark.

Peterson gave the bill an introduction, just as he had with the previous one, requesting a motion to introduce. After eight seconds of silence, he asked again. Four more seconds passed before Rep. Gosch spoke up, offering a motion. Peterson next asked for a second, which was followed by nearly 10 seconds of silence. He asked once more for a second before declaring the proposal dead.

Speaking to reporters in the Capitol Wednesday morning, Noem further expressed displeasure with the committee’s decision to not hear the bill, saying she was “very disappointed.”

As Wednesday is the last day to introduce new individual bills for the session, Noem said the only option for her heartbeat bill to go forward may be “if a legislator decides they want to champion the issue.”

Noem said she was not expecting the committee to deny a hearing for the bill, “especially for Republican leadership.”

Noem told reporters that this type of maneuver is one of the things she hated about being in Washington, D.C., where she served as a representative. “If people don’t like a bill, debate the merits of it,” she said.

Noem announced the legislation on January 21. The bill is similar to legislation passed in 2021 by Texas and Mississippi with some key differences in language.

The committee did sponsor Noem’s medical-abortion restriction.