Kristi Noem, Trump VP Frontrunner, Rejects Rape Exceptions for Abortion

"I just don’t believe a tragedy should perpetuate another tragedy," the South Dakota Republican governor told CNN's State of the Union. 

Kristi Noem, Trump VP Frontrunner, Rejects Rape Exceptions for Abortion

Republican politicians have been struggling to talk about their abortion policies, mostly because forced pregnancy and birth are extremely unpopular. While more and more Republicans have been trying to avoid talking about abortion in any concrete terms altogether, when they do, it’s often horrifying. Case in point: South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R), a noted frontrunner to be Donald Trumps VP.

In a Sunday interview with CNN’s State of the Union, Noem first tried to skirt the issue but ultimately took a hard line against rape exceptions for abortion. “I think that every state is going to look different. We rely in South Dakota on the fact that I’m pro-life and we have a law that says that there’s an exception for the life of the mother,” Noem said when asked about her stance on the varying exceptions to abortion bans. “And I just don’t believe a tragedy should perpetuate another tragedy.”

It’s a horrific comment that equates the trauma and violence of rape with a health care service that helps people exit abusive situations or helps them avoid being tied to their rapists forever. Rape exceptions can be complicated since they’re often too vague and fail to help victims at all. But it’s still grim that Noem can’t even theoretically support rape victims’ basic human rights.

Noem’s support for an exception for the life of the pregnant person also doesn’t mean much. Several states are currently embroiled in lawsuits over their abortion bans’ exceptions for life-threatening medical emergencies because these exceptions aren’t clear. Doctors, who fear losing their license or being threatened with prison time for violating abortion laws, are also more likely to turn away pregnant people facing severe pregnancy complications.

Noem previously stood by Trump’s position that abortion rights should be decided by state governments, which is the current, awful state of affairs that’s forced thousands to travel across state lines for basic health care. She told CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday that she sees her role in enforcing South Dakota’s abortion ban as “[making] sure the will of the people is enforced.”

“I can have an opinion. … I can look at the science and what we’ve learned about babies in the womb and believe that we should protect life, but I think that our law today is what South Dakota wants and they’ll continue to have that debate and I’ll continue to follow through on my role,” she said.

The idea that enforcing an abortion ban could ever be the “will of the people” is laughable when these laws are being enforced against the will of the pregnant person seeking abortion care. And I’m still not over Noem’s bullshit on rape exceptions, which follows a consistent, bleak pattern of Republican politicians’ bullshit on the dual issues of abortion and sexual violence. In recent years elected Republicans have suggested women’s bodies “control intake of sperm” so they can’t be impregnated from rape and won’t need an abortion, called pregnancy from rape “an opportunity,” called forced birth after rape “the greatest healing agent you need in which to recover from such an atrocity,” and said victims should “lie back and enjoy it.”

When abortion is banned, all pregnant people and women are endangered by the government policing their bodily autonomy. The trauma can be compounded for rape victims. And politicians like Noem are saying the quiet part out loud about how little they care.

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