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Republican Gov. Kristi Noem said Sunday her bill making its way through South Dakota‘s legislature aimed at protecting fairness in women’s sports will be the “strongest bill in the nation” of its kind.

“This is about fairness,” Noem said on “Fox News Sunday.” “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.


Kristi Noem, governor of South Dakota, speaks during the Family Leader summit in Des Moines, Iowa, on July 16, 2021. (Rachel Mummey/Bloomberg )

“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.”

A South Dakota legislative committee on Friday approved a bill championed by Noem that limits collegiate and K-12 participation to the sex identified on an athlete’s birth certificate. If it passes the legislature, South Dakota will become the 10th state to ban transgender people from competing on teams that match their gender identity.

The bill makes good on a promise Noem delivered when she controversially vetoed a similar bill from the state legislature last year. After initially supporting House Bill 1217, Noem sent a style and form veto back to the legislature with a slew of requests, including removing a provision designed to protect collegiate sports. The Republican-led legislature ultimately failed to override her veto and the governor attempted to supplant that bill with executive orders aimed at protecting K-12 sports.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on July 11, 2021, in Dallas, Texas. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Noem had argued that unlike elementary and secondary school regulations, collegiate restrictions would create an unworkable patchwork for athletic organizations that operate at the national level.

“I did not veto a bill,” Noem declared Sunday. “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.”


Noem also defended her new proposed bill to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, or around six weeks, which includes a provision that would punish people who aid someone in getting an abortion with a minimum $10,000 penalty.

“The South Dakota law is different,” she 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.”

Fox News’ Sam Dorman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.