Press "Enter" to skip to content

Noem Hasn’t Followed Through on Post-Roe Special Session; Legislators Satisfied with Abortion Ban and No Help for Women?

Oh, darn, maybe we won’t get a Special Session to talk about paid family leave

Joe Sneve reports that Governor Kristi Noem appears to be backing away from holding a Special Session to respond to and solidify the Alito Court’s devastation of women’s reproductive rights.

On May 2, when the Alito Court leaked its draft Dobbs ruling, Governor Kristi Noem tweeted, “If this report is true and Roe v. Wade is overturned, I will immediately call for a special session to save lives and guarantee that every unborn child has a right to life in South Dakota.” On June 24, the Alito Court overturned Roe v. Wade, immediately banning almost all abortions in South Dakota. Noem did not immediately call for a Special Session; instead, she issued a press release with Rep. Jon Hansen (%-25/Dell Rapids) and Sen. Lee Schoenbeck (R-5/Lake Kampeska) announcing “plans for a special session later this year to save lives and help mothers impacted by the decision.”

But now, says Sneve, Republicans seem to be admitting there are no plans:

While Noem and other GOP leaders she’d be relying on to bolster South Dakota’s existing prohibition on voluntary terminations of pregnancies insist they’re still working to schedule a special Legislative Session on abortion, rank and file members of the Legislature haven’t been floated any proposed dates. They haven’t seen any potential legislation they might be asked to vote upon either.

And recent statements made by the first-term governor facing re-election in November signal even she’s not leading the efforts to bring the state House and Senate back to Pierre as she once was.

“Our Legislature is thinking of coming into a special session to see what that would look like,” Noem said during a recent appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America… [Joe Sneve, “Analysis: Is Gov. Kristi Noem Stepping Back from Vow to Hold Special Session on Abortion?Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 2022.07.06].

Hansen and Schoenbeck tell Sneve they are “in ongoing talks with Noem and her staff,” but Sneve reports other Republicans are too tired or election-skittish to lift a Legislative finger to save lives or help moms:

But there’s a growing sentiment in the Legislature that given abortion is illegal in South Dakota — and there is an exception in the trigger law for the life of mother — a special session might not be necessary.

It could also create vulnerabilities ahead of November’s election for Republicans in moderate districts, while some are just fatigued with from what would be the fourth special session of the Legislature since 2020.

“If the sky’s not falling — and I don’t know of any issue that’s that pressing — it’s going to be tough to get all of us on board,” said Rep. Greg Jamison, R-Sioux Falls.  “And there’s reasons to wait, to let calmer heads prevail when there’s not such a hysteria and almost anxiousness to spike the ball in the end zone” [Sneve, 2022.07.06].

This lack of a plan and enthusiasm shines a light right through Noem’s flimsy rhetoric about helping moms. Her party’s real priority isn’t helping women or children; it’s about denying women equality and autonomy and punishing women who dare have sex of which they do not approve. The Republicans have gotten that from the Alito Court; their work is done.


  1. O 2022-07-07 10:13

    Initially the special session was going to be SD’s opportunity to race to the bottom: to get into the conservative game of making THE most restrictive abortion prohibition of all the states. In a few unscripted remarks, the the narrative started to give the appearance of softening into helping pregnant women through new difficulties created by the ban. Now it seems that our GOP is back to its bootstrap/responsibility philosophy. The ban is absolute enough to pass the GOP morality litmus test; any session, which would not address helping women, would be bad politics in that it would show the complete disregard for women (and the life of unborn) created under this new forced delivery regime.

  2. bearcreekbat 2022-07-07 11:13

    O, it would appear that SD has already won the “race to the bottom?” I haven’t read about any other state that either had an existing trigger law, or enacted such laws after Dobbs, that automatically makes obtaining an unauthorized abortion a capital offense (1st degree murder under SDCL 22-16-4) for the woman, her doctor, and anyone else aiding and abetting her (SDCL 22-3-3) or conspiring with others to help her (SDCL 22-3-8).

    Unless, of course other states have treated this draconian law as an “elephant in the room,” which seems to be the case in South Dakota, such that “the race” may still be on. If that is the case, perhaps adopting a law authorizing a public “drawing and quartering” the guilty woman and her medical team will be the next law enacted in the effort to “THE most restrictive abortion prohibition of all the states.”

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-07-07 11:24

    O, you mention “unscripted remarks.” I was wondering back on May 2 why we’d even need a Special Session to tighten South Dakota’s abortion restrictions after the Dobbs ruling, since the trigger law is about as strict a restriction as one can ask for. It felt like Noem hollered without checking her notes. Now the last two months she’s been testing out new spins to keep from sounding like a tyrant, to reinforce the kinder, gentler side of Republicans.

    Perhaps Representative Jamison points us to what’s really happening: the Republicans see how mad voters are about the reversal of a basic Constitutional right and the gross intrusion of government in women’s medical decisions. The Republicans know that even the most expensive pro-family policies (mandatory 12 weeks of paid family leave, fully funded public preschool, single-payer health care for all families, things the SDGOP would never pass) won’t placate voters who are mad as hell about losing their autonomy. The Republicans see over a thousand people gather on Phillips Avenue on short notice to protest, and they think, “We’d better just keep our heads down.”

    Imagine if they did hold a Special Session on abortion, or really on any topic now, how many thousands of women and their supporters might gather on the Capitol lawn to raise hell. Noem doesn’t want that.

  4. O 2022-07-07 12:57

    I know I am on the outside with this opinion, but I don’t think abortion rights would survive a voter referendum in SD again. Among the ever-increasing polarization of the political parties, the deeper entrenchment of political tribalism, and the “own the libbies” sentiment, I think the margin has shifted. SD voter have shown that over-and-over they are willing to vote against their own interests — much less the interests of their neighbors.

    bearcreekbat, after the clarification that SD would force the gestation and delivery of a 10-year old rape victim’s child, you may be right that we are already at the bottom.

  5. Eve Fisher 2022-07-07 13:05

    I would hope that some of the reason the legislators are skittish about a special session is because a lot of people – including many old fashioned South Dakota Republicans – are upset about the 10 year old Iowa girl who was raped and had to go to another state for an abortion., not to mention our Governor’s nonchalant response to the whole question on national news. If she’d managed to show a little pity or empathy, they might have swallowed it better – but she showed none. Just talking points.

  6. cibvet 2022-07-07 17:32

    Eve–scratch Iowa, it was Ohio.
    Don’t mean to be picky.

  7. O 2022-07-07 20:22

    Well, it looks like I have to recant my disdain toward the SD GOP. I was watching Youtube videos and was given an ad featuring Governor Noem touting her website dedicated to helping women in SD now in a more difficult situation because of SD’s triggered abortion ban. No need for a special session or adjustment to our draconian laws; there is a website.

    I know Cory reported on this site earlier and many commented. Please read the above “praise” with the sarcasm intended. HOWEVER, I do question the intent of the commercial: what exactly is being sold here?

  8. John Dale 2022-07-08 02:42

    Private organizations in SD are on this.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-07-08 07:12

    O, you’re not the only observer who thinks the political landscape has changed enough since 2008 to make it unlikely that the same 55% of voters would show up to reject an abortion ban. Kevin Woster developed the same thesis in April.

    But the rejection of Amendment C may give us reason to believe that the polarization does not extend as far into policy as it does in candidate selection. Conventional wisdom said Schoenbeck’s plan to rig the vote in favor of raising the vote threshold for fiscal ballot questions to 60% by putting it before the largely Republican electorate and screaming “Taxes!” would work. Yet a majority of Republican primary voters, a more polarized, energized, “own the libs” subset of Republicans than the general GOP population, voted No on C.

    Initiative/Referendum vote thresholds and abortion are very different policies, provoking very different reactions. But Americans for Prosperity worked pretty hard to bring the issue down from the airy heights of political philosophy to the gut level of “Liberals are coming for your money!” and that gut appeal failed miserably. So maybe the same classically conservative sensibility and respect for individual choice that beat back two abortion bans 14 and 16 years ago manifested itself again in rejecting Amendment C and can still be called upon to support restoring basic abortion rights.

  10. larry kurtz 2022-07-08 07:13

    What sane human being is up at 0242 commenting on a blog?

    In 2017 after a Republican governor signed a bill into law that discriminates against some couples who want to adopt, a boycott of South Dakota had significant effects on tourism and some Black Hills business owners experienced decreases of some 30-40 percent. Boycotts to protest the state’s attacks on kids and American history had effects on travel in 2020 and 2021. This year after yet another racist incident in the state tribal leaders called again for boycotts of the tourist traps in South Dakota. Now, Europe is calling for travelers to just stay away from states where trigger laws targeting women have gone into effect.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-07-08 07:13

    On what, John? On meth?

    Are you referring to private organizations like Leslee Unruh’s Alpha Center, which loves getting free advertising on Kristi’s new panacea website and is now likely hoping to get annual budget allocations to convert all women into faithful Handmaids and buy Leslee and Allen a new mansion?

  12. All Mammal 2022-07-08 12:05

    Mr. Kurtz- I’m disputably sane and have probably submitted comments at every hour of the day and night. To defend my sanity, my late late comments happen on nights when something outside stirs my 2 dogs. Once they go off, I have to wait until they’re satisfied the threat has retreated. By then, I’m too keyed up to doze back off. That’s when I wind up here, inspired to get my hammer thumb on. It helps me drift back off.. that also explains those semi coherent remarks I have generated a time or two.

    Cats and raccoons wake you up too, Mr. Dale?
    (at least that’s what I tell myself is out there)

  13. mike from iowa 2022-07-08 15:13

    This screed about iowa guv Reynolds could easily be dittoed for other red state guvs by switching names. Noem, A-Butt, DieSantis, etc,

  14. Mark Anderson 2022-07-08 17:47

    Folks, most Republicans don’t want to talk about it. They want to win the election, then they can do whatever they want. Right now they will practice their punting.

  15. Arlo Blundt 2022-07-08 18:28

    Mark–excellent point…Mrs. Noem will be advised to run a ‘front porch” campaign but she’s no shrinking violet….she will blab on …on national and local TV…flood the airwaves after labor day with one obnoxious ad after another..PROBLEM FOR THE NOEM CAMPAIGN–She doesn’t wear well..everytime she starts her inane chatter and filter focused campaign ads another voter is alienated from the show. Let’s encourage her to keep talking.

  16. O 2022-07-08 20:27

    Cory, I would say that Amendment C is a poor barometer for tribalism. The GOP has not made 60% threshold to increase spending the core of their legislative/judicial/social agenda for the past three-plus decades; on the other hand, Pro-life is the cornerstone of GOP identity — superseding even policy foundations like small government. Pro-life was used more than any other issue to keep GOP rank-and-file under the big tent.

    Where our GOP leaders will stumble — where they are stumbling now — is in the transition from campaigning to governing on this issue. The realities of HOW these laws will be applied are becoming a source of friction. When Pro-life becomes more than a simplistic fortune cookie slogan, the GOP flounders. No matter how adamently pro-life a leader is, dealing with the application to, for example, a 10-year old rape victim being forced into a nine-month gestation and delivery, starts forcing cracks in the dam. Through Dobbs, the Supreme Court has forced the GOP into their weakness (and Democrats into their strength — the Democrats are making real policy moves to cement abortion rights in their states).

Comments are closed.