Governor Kristi Noem most likely reneged on her promise to hold a Special Session to protect women and children because she only cares about herself, not women and children. But maybe she also balked because she didn’t want to face the embarrassment of opposing sensible abortion bills promoted by people who really care about women and children—i.e., Representative Jamie Smith and his fellow Democrats.
At a press conference yesterday, Smith, the Democratic candidate working hard to replace Noem, said his caucus was prepared to introduce seven bills related to abortion at the now-canceled Special Session. One of those bills would have added an exception to South Dakota’s abortion ban for cases of rape and incest, an issue that Noem inadroitly dodged on national TV earlier this month. And this exception wasn’t just some liberal ploy—Smith was working with his Republican colleagues to bring forward this bill:
Smith, the minority leader in the South Dakota House of Representatives, said he had been discussing the exception with Republicans before Noem pulled the plug on a special session.
“There was definitely a conversation that was happening,” he said. “We know that is something South Dakotans support for certain” [Jonathan Ellis, “Had There Been an Abortion Special Session, SD Democrats Wanted Exception for Rape, Incest,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 2022.07.18].
In addition to adding that humane and popular exception to South Dakota’s draconian abortion ban, Smith and the Democrats planned six other bills:
- Property tax relief for childcare providers: 2% off for each child cared for, maximum reduction 20%.
- Property tax relief for foster care providers: 2% off for each foster child, maximum reduction 10%.
- Ongoing funding for domestic violence support and rehabilitation.
- Establishment of an Early Learning Advisory Council, just to study the need for early childhood education, which South Dakota does not fund. Just the idea of studying early childhood education has proven toxic to Governor Noem, who sent her Department of Education people to testify against and kill this proposal in 2019 and 2020.
- Legal authority for pregnant minors to consent to medical procedures related to prenatal care, delivery, or postnatal care.
- Expansion of Medicaid benefits for pregnant women to 180 days after the end of pregnancy.
Governor Noem had more than two months after she promised a Special Session to come up with a bill or two to support women and children. She still hasn’t come up with one. Jamie Smith yesterday offered seven bills that could help women, children, and caregivers. Draw your own conclusion about who the real practical “pro0life” party is.