Noem doesn’t address exceptions but calls Trump’s abortion statement ‘exactly right’

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said Monday that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s new statement on abortion is “exactly right,” but she didn’t specifically say whether she agrees with his support of several abortion-ban exceptions.

Trump released a video Monday in which he backed away from supporting a national abortion ban and said the issue should be determined by states. He also said he supports exceptions to abortion bans in cases of rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother.

Noem — a potential Trump running mate — shared Trump’s video on social media and wrote, in part, “Different states will make different decisions on Life. What voters want in South Dakota might be different than what voters want in California.”

She did not address abortion-ban exceptions, and a spokesman for Noem did not immediately respond to messages Monday from South Dakota Searchlight.


Last week, Real Clear Politics published a column from Noem that foreshadowed Trump’s statement.

“I’m a pro-life governor, and I’m proud of what we’ve done in my state,” she wrote. “But what we support in South Dakota may not have support in South Carolina.”

In his video, Trump said, “My view is now that we have abortion where everybody wanted it from a legal standpoint, the states will determine by vote, or legislation, or perhaps both, and whatever they decide must be the law of the land. In this case, the law of the state.”

South Dakota State University political scientist Lisa Hager said Noem appears to have a clear motivation.

“The biggest goal is to situate herself to become the vice presidential pick,” Hager said.

According to a Feb. 16 New York Times article, abortion is an important consideration for Trump as he evaluates potential running mates. The Times reported that Trump often asks whether prospective running mates are “OK on abortion,” and is dismissive when he hears that a Republican doesn’t support “the three exceptions:” rape, incest and the life of the mother.

Ten days after that story was published, Noem visited Trump one-on-one at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.

The only exception in South Dakota’s abortion ban is for the life of the mother. Noem did not ask the Legislature to adopt additional exceptions during the last two legislative sessions after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that upheld the constitutional right to an abortion. South Dakota’s abortion ban is a trigger law that took effect immediately when Roe was struck down.

In 2022, Noem appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” where host Margaret Brennan asked if Noem was open to exceptions for rape and incest.

“I just have never believed that having a tragedy or tragic situation happen to someone is a reason to have another tragedy occur,” Noem responded.

South Dakota State University survey of 565 registered South Dakota voters in 2022 showed that 74% supported exceptions for rape and incest, and 84% supported an exception for the health of the mother.

Trump’s new abortion position does not affect his support from South Dakota Right to Life, said Executive Director Dale Bartscher. In response to Searchlight questions, he sent a statement reiterating the organization’s endorsement of Trump.

“Thanks to President Trump, the American people and their elected representatives on the state and federal levels now have greater authority to determine abortion policy and pass meaningful protections for unborn children and their mothers,” Bartscher wrote.

South Dakota Searchlight