South Dakota Bill Could Legalize Killing Abortion Doctors

Update: After a spokesman for the SD Governor called it “a very bad idea,” the bill, “has been shelved until a decision is made on whether to allow a vote on the bill as it stands, re-word it before a vote or drop it entirely.”

It’s disturbing the number of assaults on women’s reproductive freedom that have taken place in the past couple months, from bills that would deny private insurance companies from providing abortion coverage to congressional Republicans’ proposed defunding of Planned Parenthood’s family services, which would include cancer screenings.

But none have been as stomach-lurching as a South Dakota bill that could make it legal to murder abortion providers.

From a must-read Mother Jones article:

A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of “justifiable homicide” to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus—a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions. The Republican-backed legislation, House Bill 1171, has passed out of committee on a nine-to-three party-line vote, and is expected to face a floor vote in the state’s GOP-dominated House of Representatives soon.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Jensen, a committed foe of abortion rights, alters the state’s legal definition of justifiable homicide by adding language stating that a homicide is permissible if committed by a person “while resisting an attempt to harm” that person’s unborn child or the unborn child of that person’s spouse, partner, parent, or child. If the bill passes, it could in theory allow a woman’s father, mother, son, daughter, or husband to kill anyone who tried to provide that woman an abortion—even if she wanted one. 

Folks, if that’s not state-endorsed terrorism, then I don’t know what is.

In an update to the article, Jensen disagrees with this interpretation of the bill. “This simply is to bring consistency to South Dakota statute as it relates to justifiable homicide,” said Jensen in an interview, repeating an argument he made in the committee hearing on the bill last week. “If you look at the code, these codes are dealing with illegal acts. Now, abortion is a legal act. So this has got nothing to do with abortion.” 

Here is the bill in its entirety:

FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to expand the definition of justifiable homicide to provide for the protection of certain unborn children.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:     

Section 1. That § 22-16-34 be amended to read as follows:     

22-16-34. Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person while resisting any attempt to murder such person, or to harm the unborn child of such person in a manner and to a degree likely to result in the death of the unborn child, or to commit any felony upon him or her, or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person is 

Section 2. That § 22-16-35 be amended to read as follows:   

22-16-35. 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.

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