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Kristi NoemNBC News / YouTube

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UPDATE, March 29, 2021, 7:11PM EST: Following publication of this report, a veto override vote failed in the South Dakota House 45-24.

PIERRE, March 29, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem has effectively vetoed legislation ensuring that female students will only have to compete against other females in athletic programs, while issuing a statement attempting to deflect blame for the bill’s defeat onto the state legislature.

HB 1217 affirms that a “team or sport designated as being female is available only to participants who are female, based on their biological sex.” On March 8, Noem declared she was “excited to sign this bill very soon,” hailing the defense of women’s sports as a worthy cause to highlight on International Women’s Day.

However, following a barrage of media and corporate pressure, Noem reversed herself at the last minute, announcing on March 19 she was sending the bill back to the legislature over sudden reservations about its “vague and overly broad language” and suggesting various “style and form” changes. 

Those changes, which would make the bill harder to enforce at the high school level and exempt the collegiate level entirely, didn’t sit well with most conservatives, whom Noem tried and failed to mollify by announcing a “Defend Title IX Coalition” — effectively a petition which carries no legal force, but does help Noem collect contact information for future mailing lists.

The South Dakota House “resoundingly” rejected Noem’s “style and form” changes Monday morning, the Argus Leader reports, with only two members voting in favor of them.

“Every single day I focus on waking up and doing what’s best for this state and the families here, building strong families and giving them opportunities,” Noem told the paper. “It seems strange this has gotten to be a bit of a personal attack on me from several legislators.”

In response to the vote, Noem sent a letter to House leaders confirming that the bill is effectively vetoed, while claiming that the legislature’s refusal to make her recommended changes are what vetoed it, rather than her rejection of the bill:

“There should now be no illusion as to the kind of leader Kristi Noem is,” American Principles Project (APP) president Terry Schilling responded. “In this past week, voters in her state and nationwide have seen her surrender to the left, engage in political theater to distract from that surrender, and now refuse to change course despite being called out for it. This failure to stand up when it mattered most will define Noem for the rest of her career and will certainly haunt her should she decide to run for any office in the future. Conservatives will not forget it.”

LGBT activists claim it’s “discriminatory” to reserve female competitive sports for actual females, but science confirms that “trans women” (i.e., biological men) retain distinct physical advantages through which they can deprive actual female athletes of recognition and scholarship opportunities intended to advance girls.

In a paper published by the Journal of Medical Ethics, New Zealand researchers found that “healthy young men (do) not lose significant muscle mass (or power) when their circulating testosterone levels were reduced to (below International Olympic Committee guidelines) for 20 weeks,” and “indirect effects of testosterone” on factors such as bone structure, lung volume, and heart size “will not be altered by hormone therapy”; therefore, “the advantage to transwomen (biological men) afforded by the (International Olympic Committee) guidelines is an intolerable unfairness.”

During a Senate hearing on the LGBT lobby’s so-called “Equality Act” earlier this month, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) noted that the speed of world record-holding runner Florence Griffith Joyner, while still unmatched by female successors, was surpassed by 76 American high-school boys in 2019 alone.

Prior to Noem’s decision, a coalition of 47 national and state policy leaders sent a letter warning the governor that “gutting the bill doesn’t help anyone win—it sends South Dakota and their girls and women back to the sidelines and sends the wrong signal to others across the country in the fight to save girls’ and women’s sports.”

“Your version of the bill would hand South Dakota’s collegiate female athletes—and a say in your state’s governance—to the NCAA on a silver platter,” the letter noted. “Why should collegiate females face injustice for achieving the honor of college-level competition?”

Despite the veto, HB 1217’s fate is not yet sealed. APP’s director of policy and government affairs Jon Schweppe reports that the state legislature is currently weighing its options, and may be able to override Noem’s veto. Two-thirds of each chamber must vote yes to override a veto in South Dakota; the bill originally passed by more than enough votes in the House but would need an additional four votes in the Senate.