It is no mistake that when Thomas Jefferson declared all men are endowed with the “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” LIFE came first. The Constitution clearly delegates defending the lives and safety of the people to the government as its chief role. That includes defending the rights and the lives of unborn children.
In South Dakota, we took great strides toward protecting those lives. The total number of abortions declined more than 80% over the last decade. Credit goes to our legislators, who proved that abortion does not need to be a divisive issue. Last year, we earned unanimous, bipartisan support for my bill to guarantee protections for unborn children with Down syndrome.
But we cannot rest until we protect every unborn life. The Supreme Court has a historic opportunity to make that a reality. As soon as the High Court overturns Roe v. Wade, our state laws already in place should protect every unborn South Dakota child. But until then, we can take steps to protect South Dakota children today. And we will do it from the very first heartbeat of every child.
Each human life carries a beautiful uniqueness from the moment that life is conceived. Before long, they have their own unique heartbeat, too. Science tells us that an unborn child’s heart starts beating as early as six weeks after conception. And any abortion after that point stops that heartbeat — stops that life — stops that gift from God.
That gift must be protected. I am bringing a bill this session to ban abortions after a heartbeat has been detected in the womb. This law, similar to the Texas Heartbeat Act, will save lives and ensure that South Dakota remains a staunchly pro-life state.
We must do more to uphold South Dakota’s culture of life, protect the unborn, and defend women against dangerous procedures. That includes stopping the movement toward telemedicine abortions which pose a serious threat to women in our state.
Chemical abortions happen when a woman ends an unborn life with a pill. These unsupervised procedures expose women to four times the risk of ending up in the emergency room.
We all know how important it is to see a doctor, especially when concerned about health risks. Under the Biden Administration, the federal government removes the safeguards that protect women in our country by easing requirements for telemedicine abortion and chemical abortion pill-by-mail. But as the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists warns, an “in-person visit is medically necessary and sound medical practice because it ensures that every woman receives a full evaluation for any contraindications to a medication abortion.” Telemedicine strips away those visits—those safeguards.
I will not stand by while the federal government jeopardizes women’s health. Last year, I signed an executive order banning telemedicine abortions in South Dakota. The legislature approved the rule for our Department of Health to take action immediately. I am bringing legislation to codify this rule permanently into state law. I am asking lawmakers to take action to protect South Dakota women from this dangerous procedure.
We respect life in South Dakota, and I look forward to the day when we protect all unborn lives. Our laws must reflect our values and our commitment to protect the unalienable rights of all of our citizens.