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South Dakota To Make Killing Abortion Docs “Justifiable Homicide”

Pro Choice Escort

Pro Choice Escort by infowidget, on Flickr

One of the ways that the anti-choice activists ply their trade it to intimidate doctors who provide abortions. They put out wanted posters, they show up at their houses, they even make up rhymes like “Tiller the baby killer” and repeat them again and again and again. Then some of their whacked out number actually attack and in cases like Dr. Tiller kill them.

The defense from these people is often that they are trying to prevent the “killing of unborn children”. This has been rejected by all courts who have had it presented to them but if South Dakota has its way, that will no longer be true in that state. The Republican backed bill House Bill 1171 would make it legal to offer an affirmative defense killing someone if they are attempting to harm the unborn child of any person.

The whole amendment reads :

Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person in the lawful defense of such person, or of his or her husband, wife, parent, child, master, mistress, or servant, or the unborn child of any such enumerated person, if there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design to commit a felony, or to do some great personal injury, and imminent danger of such design being accomplished.

If the law was just talking about a felony it would not be as much of a problem, there are many states that will add a second count of assault or murder if the woman is pregnant at the time. But it is the great personal injury that makes this a real problem for abortion doctors. That bit of added fluff is very vague and the anti-choice movement has been trying for along to time to assert that great personal injury comes from abortions, even if the woman wants the abortion.

Further, it would be easy to argue that great personal harm to the fetus is the result of any abortion. This whole amendment is designed to backdoor so-called “personhood” for fetus in the Mount Rushmore State. Mother Jones’ Kate Sheppard has a nice run down of this issue, you can find it here .

The net affect of this law could be to allow family member or even employer of a pregnant woman who wants an abortion to kill a doctor or nurses who are preparing to perform this legal procedure, even if the woman wants the abortion! If enacted, as seems likely since Republicans control the entire legislature in SD, this amendment would make it much harder for any doctor to even consider performing abortions in that state. As it is there are no abortion providers who live and practice in South Dekota, the only provider is flown in once a week by Planned Parenthood. From the article:

“The bill in South Dakota is an invitation to murder abortion providers,” says Vicki Saporta, the president of the National Abortion Federation, the professional association of abortion providers. Since 1993, eight doctors have been assassinated at the hands of anti-abortion extremists, and another 17 have been the victims of murder attempts. Some of the perpetrators of those crimes have tried to use the justifiable homicide defense at their trials. “This is not an abstract bill,” Saporta says. The measure could have major implications if a “misguided extremist invokes this ‘self-defense’ statute to justify the murder of a doctor, nurse or volunteer,” the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families warned in a message to supporters last week.

This is the kind of thing that we on the Left should be pointing to when the Right claims they are not encouraging a climate of violence. To provide for an active justifiable homicide defense by singling out fetuses is just throwing fuel on the fire of the very violent anti-abortion movement. The 23 murders and attempted murders of doctors who provide abortion in less than 20 years shows that this is a real issue. To give a clear and active defense to those who would commit such heinous acts really would take the lid off of this. Up to now we can be fairly sure that the idea of going jail has prevented some of anti-choicers from acting out violently. If this law goes into affect it will not be the last state it is introduced in.

Beyond the fact that South Dakota Republicans want to force all women who become pregnant to bear these children (which is just heinous beyond belief) there is also the legal end point of establishing personhood. When does that happen exactly? The forced pregnancy crowd will tell you at conception. The problem there is that most women don’t know they have conceived right away. It takes until after their missed period to be detected. Then there is the issue of miscarriages. One in three pregnancies end in a miscarriage. That means that there would have to be coroners reports and investigations of foul play for many of these very natural events. The cost alone would be prohibitive.

It is always worth pointing out that that same people who rail against “Big Government” want to intrude into the wombs of every single woman. They want to control and punish them for sexual activity. It is beyond sick to me. As a man I don’t think that I have a whole lot to say about a woman having an abortion. It is her choice, it is her body and carrying a child to term is not a casual thing. It can lead to all kinds of physical complications even if she decides to give the child up for adoption. For men to insist on every woman who gets pregnant have the child is abusive on the face of it.

You might want to take a couple of minutes to write the governor of South Dakota and tell him that you will not be visiting there nor will you spend any money with companies based in his state as long as they are going to make it legal to kill abortion doctors. You can contact him here .

I am just going to leave you with the though that came from a tee shirt my mom had back in the 70’s “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament”. I think that is being proved very true by the actions of the assholes in South Dakota.

The floor is yours.

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Bill Egnor

Bill Egnor

I am a life long Democrat from a political family. Work wise I am a Six Sigma Black Belt (process improvement project manager) and Freelance reporter for