South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) said Sunday that a bill currently with the state legislature that looks to protect women's sports amid an increased number of biological males participating as female athletes across the country will be the "strongest" of its kind in the nation.
Noem told host Shannon Bream on "Fox News Sunday" that the motive behind signing the legislation into law is "fairness."
"This is about fairness," Noem said. "This is about making sure that our girls have a chance to be successful and to compete, to win scholarships, potentially go on to play professional sports beyond that. We want them to have the opportunity to do that."
"Title IX fought for that years and years ago and I've been doing this for years, which started, man, almost five years ago now in the sport of rodeo, where we protected girls' events," she continued. "So now I'm bringing a bill to the legislature that will be the strongest bill in the nation in protecting fairness in girls' sports, and I'm hopeful that my legislators will support it."
This comes after a South Dakota legislative committee approved a Noem-backed bill on Friday requiring that collegiate and K-12 student-athletes participate in athletic events designated for their biological sex. If the bill passes the state legislature, South Dakota will become the 10th state to ban transgender athletes from competing in sports based on their gender identity.
The bill affirms Noem's promise from last year, when she made the controversial move to veto a similar transgender bill from the state legislature. Despite originally supporting House Bill 1217, the governor sent it back to the legislature for revisions. She asked for a number of requests, including the removal of a provision aimed at protecting collegiate sports. The GOP-led legislature later failed in its efforts to override her veto and, in the meantime, Noem issued executive orders to protect K-12 sports.
Noem argued at the time that collegiate restrictions, which are different than elementary and secondary school regulations, would harm national athletic organizations.
"I did not veto a bill," Noem said during her Sunday interview. "What I did was I asked my legislature for changes, and they rejected it. So immediately that very same day I put executive orders in place to protect girls’ sports."
The GOP governor also spoke on her new heartbeat abortion bill, proposed Friday, that would prohibit the procedure once a heartbeat is detected. The bill, mirrored after Texas' abortion ban, would issue $10,000 penalties to people who help a woman get an abortion, on top of legal fees and other potential compensation.
"The South Dakota law is different," Noem said. "It is modeled after the Texas law, and it says when that heartbeat is detected, that then abortion is not an option. And frankly, since we got to the Texas law in place, lives have been saved. In South Dakota, there's a private right of action clause that is different than the Texas model. But we think that really gives people the option to really not insert the state into that relationship, but make sure that people have the opportunity to go after those doctors that do perform abortions, and save those lives so that we can continue to be bold in doing that."