"The bill in South Dakota is an invitation to murder abortion providers." NAF president Vicki Saporta
Kate Sheppard reports for Mother Jones: 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. Phil 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.
Sheppard reminds us that since 1993, eight physicians have been butchered at the hands of anti-abortion zealots, and another seventeen have been the victims of attempted murder. Fox News pundits and right-wing radio jocks commonly describe such offenses as "heroic." Christian fundamentalists shout "Hallelujah" and "Praise the Lord" as the bullets fly. In the nation's courtrooms, perpetrators of these obscene crimes against healthcare providers are known to invoke "justifiable homicide." (It is, tragically, the gay panic defense of "pro-lifers.") Juries seldom buy this tortured logic, but with a mean-spirited and decidedly anti-female law like HB-1171 on the books, Bush-appointed ultraconservative judges will have a legislative precedent to overturn verdicts and put cold-blooded killers like Scott Roeder back on the streets. Doctors will stop performing perfectly legal (and sometimes necessary) therapeutic abortions, and young rape victims and women whose health is threatened by a pregnancy will be headed for the back alleys once again.
P.Z. Myers observes on Science Blogs: South Dakota already has the most indefensibly restrictive set of abortion laws in the country, and last I heard, had no abortion doctors — they rely on a very few Minnesota doctors who regularly fly in to a few locations to deliver essential services. Now the South Dakota legislature is doing even more to discourage responsible reproductive health and is doing further harm to women in the state.
With right-wingers' so-called "personhood amendments" being introduced to six legislatures (which bestow the benefits of U.S. citizenship on microscopic zygotes), it would be a serious mistake to imagine that the social agenda of Christian dominionists is hibernating. Plans to introduce theocracy to America have simply shifted from the federal government to fundie-fecund red states.
Instead of agonizing over the relatively few cave-dwelling Islamic extremists in a nebulous War On Terror, conservative lawmakers might want to cast their eyes upon the nest of scripture-spitting vipers they so enthusiastically embrace.
Related Post - Pope Benedict: Therapeutic Abortion Is Worse Than Child Rape