Massachusetts codified abortion rights in 2020, and the day the Alito Court overturned Roe, Republican Governor Charlie Baker ordered state agencies not to cooperate with any other state trying to investigate or prosecute anyone for seeking or providing a legal abortion in his state. Campaigning for Republican gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl in Boston last week, anti-abortion Kristi Noem had to defend Baker’s and Diehl’s support for the pro-choice policies Massachusetts voters want:
“The states aren’t as different as you’d think,” Diehl said, referring to ruby red South Dakota. “The big difference is their state is actually gaining population. I want to make sure we catch up to what they are doing as far as listening to people and deliver for the state of Massachusetts.”
Even so, Diehl, who has been described by a spokeswoman as “pro-life” and backed the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, held back when asked whether he supported Noem’s hard-line stance on abortion.
“I want to protect life where I can. In Massachusetts, the Legislature already took it into their hands a year before Roe v. Wade was brought down . . . to protect abortion in this state,” he said, noting that he, like Baker, disagreed witha piece that expanded the availability of later-term abortions. “Governor Noem obviously has her views on it, but the governor of Massachusetts doesn’t make that law. The Legislature makes that law. It’s my job to protect those freedoms.”
When Diehl was asked a follow-up question, Noem stepped in front of the microphone before a reporter was finished.
“Every state will make different decisions,” she said. “That’s the only conversation we are having today. . . . South Dakota’s laws may look very different than Massachusetts’, and that’s OK” [Samantha J. Gross, “An Elephant Statue. Rare Ferraris. A Hard-Right South Dakota Pol. Just an Evening with the Leading Mass. GOP Candidate for Governor,” Boston Globe, 2022.08.11].
“Conversation” seems to pop out of Noem’s mouth a lot when she wants to talk fluff and avoid responding to uncomfortable questions with real policy. But I find it hard to believe that she thinks it’s OK for Massachusetts to protect fundamental rights, equality, and dignity that South Dakota does not recognize. When Noem says “every life is precious,” she can’t mean, “Every life is precious, but only in South Dakota, so if Massachusetts wants to keep abortion legal and let women kill precious little fetal lives, that’s fine.” I would think she’d say the same thing in South Dakota about the “right to life” that she’d say anywhere else.
But evidently Noem’s passionate commitment to those SDRTL fetus dolls evaporates, or at least gets a thick coat of concealer, when she has to pander to Massachusetts voters.