Kristi Noem supports banning abortion pills and defends ‘trigger’ ban even in cases of rape or incest

Justice Department warned states against restricting access to FDA-approved drug for medication abortion

South Dakota governor defends no exception for rape or incest in state's 'trigger' law

South Dakota is among seven states where “trigger” laws that make abortion illegal, designed to take effect without Roe v Wade, are now in place. Similar laws in six other states are likely to take effect within the next 30 days or pending approval from state officials. Most do not make exceptions for rape or incest.

Appearing on CBS Face the Nation on Sunday, Governor Kristi Noem defended her state’s “trigger” law that outlaws abortions in nearly all cases, including pregnancies from rape or incest.

“I believe every life is precious,” she said. “And I just have never believed that having a tragedy or tragic situation happened to someone is a reason to have another tragedy occur.”

The 14 states with the most restrictive abortion laws, including South Dakota, have the worst maternal health outcomes and least state support for women and childen, according to the non-partisan research group the Commonwealth Fund.

The governor also defended her efforts to ban women from using telemedicine appointments to obtain prescription abortion drugs in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the landmark ruling enshrining the constitutional right to abortion care.

She signed a bill into law earlier this year that restricted access to medication abortion by requiring patients to make at least three trips to a clinic. Similar legislation has been filed in states across the US.

“These are very dangerous medical procedures,” she claimed on CBS Face the Nation on Sunday. “We don’t believe it should be available because it is a dangerous situation for an individual without being medically supervised by a physician.”

A two-drug regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol – drugs that are available over the counter in some countries – is overwhelmingly safe and effective.

Medication abortion is by far the most common form of abortion care in the US, accounting for nearly 60 per cent of all procedures. The drug was approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration in most cases up to 10 weeks of pregnancy in 2000. A vast majority of abortions occur within the first nine weeks.

Last year, the FDA permanently lifted the in-person requirement for medication abortion prescriptions, allowing patients to access the drugs via telehealth appointments and online pharmacies so patients can take the drugs at home.

Mifepristone also is are commonly used to treat miscarriages, which occur in roughly one in every 10 pregnancies.

President Joe Biden has instructed health officials “to identify all ways to ensure that mifepristone is as widely accessible” following “threats from state officials saying they will try to ban or severely restrict access to medication for reproductive health care,” according to the White House.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland said the US Department of Justice stands “ready to work with other arms of the federal government that seek to use their lawful authorities to protect and preserve access to reproductive care.”

“In particular, the FDA has approved the use of the medication Mifepristone,” he said. “States may not ban Mifepristone based on disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgment about its safety and efficacy.”

“Trigger” laws and anti-abortion restrictions have thus far not made any distinction between medication abortions and procedural abortions.

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