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Noem’s New State “Life” Website Not Entirely Helpful for Pregnant Women

One of the first things Governor Kristi Noem teed up to celebrate the Alito Court’s negation of pregnant women’s constitutional right to bodily autonomy was a new state website, Life.SD.gov, “to give women the resources they need to navigate pregnancy, birth, parenting, and adoption, if they choose.”

Governor Noem’s new loving website directs pregnant women to the religious propaganda mills Black Hills Pregnancy Center and Alpha Center. For years, the state has tried to force women seeking abortions to submit to “counseling” at the hands of the state’s favored religious zealots who run these centers. With abortion now mostly illegal in South Dakota, what point do these misinformation centers serve, other than harvesting personal data that the state can use to track these pregnant women and make sure they don’t seek legal abortions in other states? (Remember, crisis pregnancy centers aren’t real clinics, so they aren’t bound by HIPAA, and anything you say to them can and will be used against you by the theocracy when it hauls you off to the gestation camps.)

Noem’s new website does not provide new parents with any information about public preschool, since South Dakota is one of six states that does not fund preschool. The federal Head Start program serves 2.5% of our three year olds and 5.4% of our four year olds, compared to the national rate of 7.0% of three year olds and 31.6% of four year olds getting Head Start or state preschool.

Noem’s new website offers a section on Financial Assistance. Noem’s first advice to women who’ve just found out they are expecting—get a job:

Noem's Life.SD.Gov Financial Assistance website, retrieved and annotated 2022.06.26.
…hear that woman’s mouth || Preachin’ and a cryin’, tell me that I’m lyin’ ’bout a job || That I never could find || Sha-na-na-na, sha-na-na-na-na….

If those pregnant moms find the low wages they find on the state’s website don’t cover the cost of pre-natal care, delivery, and parenting, Noem does offer links to actual financial assistance, most of which are funded by federal dollars, not South Dakota’s own willingness to invest in moms and children.

Noem’s new website includes a section on adoption, but the first link, to Adoption Services—”Learn everything you need to know”—goes to the Department of Social Services “Adoption Services” page, which seems to focus on telling parents how to adopt children, not how to place their children for adoption. Likewise the second link, “Questions about Adoption? Find your answers here,” which goes to the DSS Adoption FAQ page, which tells us about “Adopting a Child through DSS,” “Post Finalization of a Child Adopted with DSS,” and “Information for Attorneys and People Adopting Privately” but give any guidance to pregnant moms considering placing their babies for adoption. The state then offers links to a variety of private organizations, including the Sioux Falls Catholic Diocese’s “Lourdes Center,” which professes to offer “A Catholic approach to human flourishing” but whose home page says not one word about adoption services, practical guidance for pregnant women, or anything else about what specific services the recently renamed Catholic Family Services may offer.

Women who are sure they want to place their child for adoption may get the clearest practical guidance on terminating their parental rights from the last link on the Adoption page, the DSS information about “Safe Havens.” Under laws enacted in 2001 (SDCL 25-5A-27 through 25-5A-35), a new parent may surrender her or his child (like most other states with Safe Haven laws, South Dakota’s statute does not specify mother or father) to an emergency medical services provider or child placement agency anonymously and without legal penalty. This surrender must take place within 60 days of the child’s birth. To qualify for legal immunity, the parent must deliver the child unharmed. The provider or agency receiving the child may ask about the child’s medical history, but the parent does not have to provide any information. The parent has 14 days to reconsider, but after 14 days, the child becomes a ward of the state or the agency receiving the child and the parent’s rights are terminated.

Hospitals, clinics (real clinics, not crisis pregnancy centers), law enforcement officers, EMTs, and firefighters may accept babies under the safe haven law. Governor Noem does not say she’ll take babies, but perhaps that’s an item to consider for the upcoming Special Session on abortion: amend SDCL 25-5A-27 to add to South Dakota’s safe havens the Governor’s mansion, the House and Senate chambers during Session, and the homes and offices of legislators. The Governor’s mansion would be a great place for newborns, what with that new fence to keep them safe. And our legislators would be good providers of safe-haven care for infants—they are just part-time public officials. If the cost of caring for a surprise baby or two is too much for legislators, they can always get a job.

38 Comments

  1. Mark 2022-06-26 22:36

    Nailed it. Spot on commentary, bravo!

  2. sx123 2022-06-27 04:35

    So when 12 yr old daughter gets raped and pregnant, she should read a websie and get a job? As a parent, it would be much safer to just have boys…

    How many people are about to move out of SD now? Will that negate any pandemic gains?

    Going to be even harder for SD to get new companies here. Guess we’ll be stuck in ag and rodeo land for a lot longer instead of becoming more diverse.

    Won’t companies that pay for SD women to travel to MN for abortions aiding an abortion and therefore going to be criminally charged? If not, why not? Aren’t they aiding an abortion?

    Has anyone asked if trigger laws are legal?
    Making a law that doesn’t kick in for 17 Orr say 50 yrs seems off to me.

    Can doctors out of state be prosecuted for performing abortions on SD girls?

    Lots of question sorry.

  3. sx123 2022-06-27 05:20

    First, note to self: no early morning posts using phone. Too many typos in earlier post.

    Just catching up on all this… so also going to mention that Noem doesn’t anticipate laws that will encourage people to snitch on those that have an abortion out of state. Sure. This is just going to be a big mess. imo, not anticipating is code word for we don’t have legislation along those lines, yet.

    SD is all about personal freedoms, except when it isn’t.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-06-27 06:44

    SX, yes to your first three lines.

    Yes to the fourth and sixth—just wait for the Special Session, when the Legislature will attempt to regulate interstate travel and commerce.

    On the legality of trigger laws: the Legislature has total latitude to set enactment dates as well as sunset clauses for all legislation.

    Noem saying she “doesn’t anticipate” a policy is like the Trump justices telling Senators that Roe is the settled law of the land. It’ll come up, and she’ll sign it if it passes. Of course, I look forward to seeing what happens when Noem signs some interstate travel ban and then finds herself and her daughters stopped and quizzed about their menstrual cycles at the border or at the airport.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-06-27 06:46

    Hooray for Governor Walz. This isn’t just the good old Janklow-Perpich feud over which state offers a better business climate; this is Noem offering tyranny and Walz offering freedom.

  6. Mayflower 2022-06-27 06:47

    Does SD now criminalize the person seeking an abortion, the person(s) performing the abortion, or both? Or, is the law whatever the White Spite Queen says it is? Not clear from any summary I’ve read.

  7. larry kurtz 2022-06-27 07:58

    Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center’s president and chief executive officer Marisa Cummings spoke of today’s decision to unite community. “The Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is the beginning of America evolving a fascist theocracy rooted in white supremacy and Christian Doctrine through violence,” she said.

    “Many of us are still recovering from the United States’ federal policies that have caused violence and trauma through generations,” Cummings continued in a statement to Native News Online. “It is not a time to be complacent, but a time for us to unite against these manifestations of violence.”

    Crystal Echohawk, echoed Cummings comment: “We must also acknowledge that today’s decision was made, primarily, by white men. This is an issue of reproductive justice, as well as an issue of white supremacy and the control of power in our country.”

    https://nativenewsonline.net/currents/supreme-court-overturns-roe-v-wade-indian-country-responds

  8. Eve Fisher 2022-06-27 08:20

    And, I note, there’s no money for anything at all – you’re still on your own, whether your 12 or 40.
    Kristi Noem wants no exceptions for abortion in cases of rape or incest. Meanwhile, we’re third in the nation for # of forcible rapes (Alaska is first, Arkansas second), and that’s based on REPORTED CASES. We’re 17th on the list for # of registered sex offenders. ) Apparently those rapists aren’t interested in claiming their parental rights, are they? Nor are the police particularly occupied in chasing them down and arresting them for rape.

    https://www.safehome.org/data/registered-sex-offender-stats/

  9. mike from iowa 2022-06-27 08:29

    From Talking Points Memo….

    A new CBS News poll shows Americans see the Court decision overturning Roe as a “step backward” rather than a “step forward” by a 21 point margin. 59% of Americans disapprove of the decision. 67% of women disapprove of the decision. Almost exactly the proportion of Americans who disapprove of the decision, support overruling it with a new federal law. That’s 58%. This is a YouGov poll and these results are if anything more favorable for the anti-Roe side than most. But it still shows a decision that is overwhelmingly unpopular. 50% of Democrats say they are more likely to vote because of the decision, 28% for indies and 20% for GOPs.

  10. Michael Card 2022-06-27 08:57

    Your note about the first graphical link on the webpage to “Get a job” resonates with my emerging view of South Dakota’s political culture. Politico had a note about the “settled working class” and the “hard living” group:

    …those who work versus those who don’t. In academic circles, these two groups are sometimes labeled the “settled” working class versus the “hard living.” A broad and fuzzy line divides these two groups, but generally speaking, settled folks work consistently while the hard living do not. The latter are thus more likely to fall into destructive habits like substance abuse that lead to further destabilization and, importantly, to reliance on government benefits.

    Wage stagnation has left many behind. The federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis has an app (and on their website to see the purchasing power of any amount since 1993 compared with December 31, 2021. A 1992 dollar can now buy 1.93 of goods and services, but wages that have doubled for the “hard living” group have not. Our belief that everybody can “pull [themselves] up by their bootstraps is not a valid assertion.

    What are we as a society doing to help? Do we have the money? Yes. The state of SD put in $19.1million in 2020 and $85.9 million in 2021, providing a budget reserve of 16.6% of general fund Appropriations (KELO.com’s Carter Woodiel “South Dakota budget Surplus, by the Numbers,” July 21, 2021. Fiscal year 2022 general fund revenue is projected to increase by 10% above the prior year.

    Should we? If nothing else, we have the time to think about how to help those who made earlier-in-life-jobs decisions that inhibit higher earnings later in life without telling them to “get a job.”

  11. larry kurtz 2022-06-27 10:15

    Mrs. Noem is becoming exceedingly skillful at the “there is no bad press” narrative and milking her own base for real dollars. Is this a great country or what?

  12. Allen Jeris 2022-06-27 11:40

    You could always tell them to “get a plan” and figure it out. Or the always classic “go fund yourself.”

  13. John 2022-06-27 11:46

    “There are over 120,000 children eligible for adoption in the US right now and more than 400,000 in the foster care system.
    . . . when I see pics of . . . conservative married couples holding a sign that says “Don’t abort – we’ll adopt your baby” – I just don’t buy it.”
    @cmclymer

    It’s about control. It’s about a religious theocracy.

    “The US Constitution is not God’s inspired word.
    It’s a legal document written by white men engaged in international human trafficking, genocide rape, and other crimes against humanity. The document was meant to insulate, perpetuate, and institutionalize their crimes.” @MerrittforTexas

    “The court claims a right to abortion is not “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”
    Is that true? I searched 18th century newspapers because I wanted to learn how people really felt about abortion at America’s founding.
    Answer: they *loved* abortion. Thread!”
    https://twitter.com/jskilesskinner/status/1541164143314714625

  14. Mark Anderson 2022-06-27 12:15

    Oh, I’m sure that Kristi will volunteer to pray with those raped and forced to give birth by her state. Slavery is now back but it’s a nice fuzzy slavery and they’ll make wonderful mothers won’t they? There will be so many more raped by their fathers in incest than transgender athletes, it won’t be funny. I’m sure she can work it into her anti-woke campaigning somehow. Maybe she could pray with them on the 50 yard line after blessing them. Their real job is as mothers, the white ones anyway, it is a victory for white life, thank you Trump. The others can work in the kitchen since they were born that way.
    Really folks, this is all reality to some.

  15. cibvet 2022-06-27 13:00

    As rape and incest are now legal for procreation, I would expect an increase in both incidents with law enforcement returning to the practice of shelving the reported episodes. Most women are now considered state property and will have to adjust to their new found circumstances after losing their second class status after one hundred years of fighting to gain that small step. Not surprisingly,I now expect successful lawsuits from the offenders for parental rights of the child without any monetary compensation to the rearing of said child. A step backward for women with a giant step onward for men.

  16. All Mammal 2022-06-27 14:51

    I keep fantasizing about bringing back lynching- in reverse. String up a few racist pigs so the rest know we mean business and slither off back into shame and hiding. We won’t go back.

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-06-27 17:36

    Mayflower, no South Dakota law specifically criminalizes a woman’s choice to abort; only the person performing the abortion or providing the drugs/instruments therefor faces the Class 6 felony charge of the trigger law. However, commenter Bearcreekbat argues that as statute stands, women may now be charged with murder.

  18. P. Aitch 2022-06-27 18:32

    And … why hasn’t any group filed a challenge against your “trigger law”? Utah and Louisiana have already halted the ban. The way laws are written in Pierre there’s about a 90% chance the trigger is not valid and needs a ruling.

  19. sx123 2022-06-27 18:56

    P. Aitch, I argue that trigger laws, unless maybe in case of nuclear attack and drastic change of govt operating procedure, should not be legal unless triggered by a not so distant future date, not based on an event happening many years in the future. I mean, a legislature could plant some real bombs (no pun) in there for people 100 yrs in the future. I’m certainly not a lawyer but these trigger laws don’t seem right to me, whatever they’re for.

  20. P. Aitch 2022-06-27 19:22

    Agreed, SX. Noem is a bully, but she doesn’t bite. She just spits. Not challenging a trigger law; this vague and unprecedented is no different than enabling an alcoholic spouse abuser. Reopening Planned Parenthood and conducting at least one medical procedure, even if just for a couple weeks would effectively be a “spit back” in her insipid face.

  21. mike from iowa 2022-06-27 19:40

    Federal judge in Looseranna put a hold on state’s trigger law. I don’t kn ow why, yet.

  22. mike from iowa 2022-06-27 19:49

    Wasn’t a federal judge that blocked trigger laws in Looseranna. Utah and at least one other state.

    Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Robin Giarrusso issued the temporary block shortly after abortion providers in the state filed a lawsuit, according to the order.

  23. leslie 2022-06-28 00:57

    Noem’s religious push for cancellation of the constitutional right for abortion has been the capstone of fervor the Republican party has milked for 50 years as SCOTUS painted itself into a corner leaving the conservative six no choice but to choose what’s his name to write the 60 page salivating screed for the “majority’s decision. Alito.

  24. leslie 2022-06-28 01:26

    “We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion,” Alito writes. “Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives.”

    https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/a-look-at-50-years-of-supreme-court-abortion-decisions

    Daily Kos: “…until recently, it was widely assumed that Republican voters had more enthusiasm heading into the 2022 midterms. Nonetheless, after Russia invaded Ukraine, and Biden showed remarkable leadership, Democratic enthusiasm ticked up. Now it has exploded.”

  25. bearcreekbat 2022-06-28 01:57

    There seem to be lots of questions about the criminal liability of people helping women who want to obtain an illegal abortion, both within and outside the State. Here are some SD criminal law statutes and a federal criminal law that might help answer those questions:

    [SDCL] 22-3-3. Aiding, abetting or advising–Accountability as principal.

    Any person who, with the intent to promote or facilitate the commission of a crime, aids, abets, or advises another person in planning or committing the crime, is legally accountable, as a principal to the crime.

    [SDCL] 22-3-8. Conspiracy to commit offense–Punishment.

    If two or more persons conspire, either to commit any offense against the State of South Dakota, . . . and one or more of the parties do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each of the parties to such conspiracy is guilty of conspiracy and may be punished up to the maximum penalty which may be imposed for a crime which is one level below the penalty prescribed for the crime underlying the conspiracy. However, it is not a crime to conspire to commit a Class 2 misdemeanor or a petty offense.

    [SDCL] 22-3-9. Liability to punishment for act outside state aiding injury within state.

    Any person who, while out of the state, causes, aids, advises, or encourages another person to injure any person or property in this state by means of any act or neglect which is a crime in this state, is liable to punishment under the laws of this state.

    Abortion, i.e. terminating a pregnancy by definition constitutes the killing of an “unborn child,” as defined by SD statute. When intentionally committed in an unauthorized manner, SD statutes further declare such a “killing” to be 1st degree murder, which “is a crime in this state” and “an offense against the State of South Dakota.” As such, the above statutes defining various crimes appear to be implicated when anyone tries to assist the woman in “effect[ing] the death of . . . an unborn child,” SDCL 22-16-4(1), such this would be an “offense against the State of South Dakota” and a “crime.”

    Likewise, SD’s trigger law creates an additional felony “crime” for anyone helping a woman obtain an abortion, although this statutorily defined crime has a less serious punishment than 1st degree murder. The trigger law felony is punishable only by a term of years in prison rather than murder’s death sentence or mandatory life in prison.

    Finally, also consider this longstanding federal criminal statute:

    Section 2423(c) of Title 18, United States Code, prohibits United States citizens or legal permanent residents from traveling from the United States to a foreign country, and while there, raping or sexually molesting a child or paying a child for sex. Citizens can be punished under this law even if the conduct they engaged in was legal in the country where it occurred. For example, if an individual traveled to a country that had legalized prostitution, and while they were there they paid a child for sex, that individual could still be convicted under this statute. The penalty for this provision is up to 30 years in prison.

    https://www.justice.gov/criminal-ceos/citizens-guide-us-federal-law-extraterritorial-sexual-exploitation-children

    This seems to support the criminalization of travel from one state to a second state to terminate a pregnancy, or as SD defines this act: “kill an unborn child,” despite the fact that in the second state terminaing a pregnancy is legal. And lawmakers/courts would likely consider terminating a pregnancy to be even more serious than merely paying a child to have sex, especially since SD law authorizes a death sentence or mandatory life sentence for the unauthorized termination of a pregnancy.

  26. Francis Schaffer 2022-06-28 10:35

    bearcreekbat,
    That is just damn depressing what you write here. Thank you for taking the time wading through the legalese, I find it informative; yet depressing.
    I am wondering why Governor Noem waited until now to open the Life.SD.gov website. Would none of this information have been helpful prior to overturning Roe v. Wade? I am confused why now, it seems that information about adoption, financial assistance, health care/coverage should have been available at all times in a self proclaimed Christian society. In my opinon, Governor Noem has a benevolent dictator complex. Not sure that is a thing, as most with a sense of power over others, will wield it should those others step out of line. I would be more curious about the books Governor Noem has read than one she has allegedly written. Sorry for the rambling
    Francis

  27. John 2022-06-28 11:54

    The founder and former operator of the Pro-Life movement. Rev. Robert Schneck, says the movement lost its soul.
    It allowed itself to become a political football owned entirely by the republican party. That party wants NOTHING to do with actually providing assistance to upcoming and actual mothers, or even to small children. He laughs at the notion that donors who showered billions on the Pro-Life movement would fund assistance for young mothers and young families because it’s a party representing ‘you are on your own’ and ‘that’s not my problem’ and ‘that’s not the governments problem’.
    18 min interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=di4TySxfZ7E

    He’s now the president of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Foundation, so yes, he had a coming to jesus.

  28. bearcreekbat 2022-06-28 12:02

    Francis, the whole situation is extremely depressing to me too. I write about this primarily because most people, including unfortunately the media, seem to be unaware (or perhaps it is just easier just to hide their heads in the sand) of the actual implications of the trigger law, and this just seems too important to ignore. I wish a prosecutor or experienced defense attorney (or anyone else for that matter) could show that my analysis is mistaken, and that the only criminal law to fear is the trigger felony, but the language in the homicide statutes seems just too straightforward.

    If Republicans really want the State to start killing women, doctors, and other folks that only want to help women in need, then everyone should know it. And if this is really okay with South Dakotans, I will be both surprised and disappointed.

  29. mike from iowa 2022-06-28 12:35

    Magats have proven over and over they had no desire to provide essentials to any child after birth. No health insurance, no school lunches, no government assistance, no decent public education, etc. Why would Anyone believe they will help all the fetuses being forced to be born?

    When your embarrassingly red state has one of the highest rates of infant mortality, the cure is not forcing more fetuses to term.

    Kentucky doctors have noticed a remarkable increase in women seeking sterilization. Once word gets out will that be the next procedure banned by magats?

  30. All Mammal 2022-06-28 12:52

    Almost every legal point brought up by BCB can and should be put into action against ALL January 6th insurrectionists. Each individual involved conspired together to commit a felony, which directly resulted in the deaths of multiple people who simply went to work that day.

    They should all be charged with murder.

  31. Arlo Blundt 2022-06-28 22:27

    Michael Card is hitting the nail on the head. There isn’t much we can do for the “hard living” working class, who work just enough to stay off living on the streets. They prefer to live this “free” lifestyle. You can have time or money in this life, and this group prefers time. The Nazarine advised us to “Consider the lilies of the field, who neither sow nor reap.”

  32. Guy 2022-06-29 17:53

    South Dakota Works website has been down since Sunday…that’s 4 days OFFLINE, according to KELOLAND…how are expectant mothers supposed to find a job to support themselves when the chief state job search engine, linked to Noem’s new Life Website is down a d unreliable? Before it went offline it has had many issues affecting its reliability.

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