Noem says she will no longer pursue special session on abortion

Noem had previously called for a special session on abortion several different times. But in a release Friday, Noem and several state lawmakers said that there was no longer a need.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem gives the State of the State address on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022,...
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem gives the State of the State address on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, at the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre, S.D. (Erin Woodiel/The Argus Leader via AP)(Erin Woodiel / Argus Leader | AP)
Published: Jul. 15, 2022 at 5:14 PM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. - Three weeks after calling for one, Gov. Kristi Noem is walking back calls for a special legislative session on abortion.

In a statement released Friday, Noem and several state lawmakers agreed that a special session “will not be necessary.”

“It has become clear that South Dakota is the most pro-life state in the nation. Our laws are saving lives, and resources like are helping mothers,” the joint statement reads. “For these reasons, we are of one mind that South Dakota can prepare to advance on our progress in the regular legislative session.”

Noem and state legislative leaders sent out a press release within hours of Roe v. Wade being overturned, indicating that she intended to call state lawmakers back to Pierre prior to the regularly scheduled legislative session in January to “save lives and help mothers impacted by the (Supreme Court’s) decision.”

Friday’s release indicating that the special session would not move forward was signed onto by several state lawmakers, including; Speaker Pro Tempore Jon Hansen (R-Dell Rapids), Rep. Taylor Rehfeldt (R-Sioux Falls), Rebecca Reimer (R-Chamberlain), and Senators Erin Tobin (R-Winner), Jessica Castleberry (R-Rapid City), and President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck (R-Watertown).

“The trigger law is solid,” Schoenbeck said in a statement to Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory. “No argument for a special session looked like a material improvement.”

Noem has faced pressure from certain conservative groups, like the South Dakota Freedom Caucus, to move forward with the special session.

“Governor Noem was right when she said that there is more work to do,” said Rep. Tony Randolph (R-Rapid City) in a press release Friday morning, calling on Noem to move forward with the special session. “We look forward to working with her in this fight for the lives of our unborn citizens.”

In South Dakota law, legislators can call for a special session on their own, but it would require two-thirds support from each chamber. Considering the number of Republicans signing on to Noem’s statement, and the certain opposition from Democratic lawmakers, prospects for a special session appear extremely dim.

Noem’s gubernatorial opponent Jamie Smith accused her of playing politics with the special session announcement.

“She decided this wouldn’t be best for her campaign image, that people were going to be bringing bills that she didn’t want to deal with, so she is backing out of it,” Smith said Thursday.

“We thank Governor Noem and our allies in the legislature for their commitment to life-saving policies that protect unborn children and support women during and after their pregnancies,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. “We look forward to working together next session to find even more ways to help both moms and babies flourish in this new Dobbs era.”

The regularly scheduled legislative session begins on Jan. 10, 2023.

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