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Is South Dakota legalizing the murder of abortion doctors?
State legislators are considering a bill that would expand the definition of "justifiable homicide," and, some say, make it legal to kill abortion providers
By some interpretations, a controversial South Dakota bill would make the killing of an abortion doctor a "justifiable homicide." Pictured: The annual March for Life in Washington D.C.
By some interpretations, a controversial South Dakota bill would make the killing of an abortion doctor a "justifiable homicide." Pictured: The annual March for Life in Washington D.C.
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ccording to an "incendiary" Mother Jones report, some South Dakota leaders want to legalize the murder of abortion providers. A bill being considered by state legislators would alter the definition of "justifiable homicide" to include killings in the name of preventing harm to a fetus, a change "that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions," says Kate Sheppard in Mother Jones. "In theory," the bill would "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," says Sheppard, who notes that the bill's sponsor, Rep. Phil Jensen, is "a committed foe of abortion rights," and that South Dakota already has some of the "most restrictive abortion laws in the country." Is Sheppard's interpretation of the bill accurate?

Settle down. This isn't even about abortion: The bill would not condone killing doctors who perform abortions, says Rep. Jensen, the legislation's chief sponsor, as quoted in The Washington Post, because it only pertains to illegal acts, not legal ones like abortion. But if a pregnant woman were beat badly by an ex-boyfriend and she killed him, her act would be justified because she would be "resisting an effort to murder her unborn child."
"South Dakota legislator defends bill to make killing to defend fetuses a "justifiable homicide"

But the bill is too ambiguous: Even given Jensen's point that the bill pertains only to illegal acts, says Amy Sullivan at Time, "that's an awfully thin semantic line... especially given the increasing array of restrictions that surround abortion in the state." What if a doctor performs an abortion on a teen who has not obtained her parent's consent, as required by South Dakota law? Does that mean the abortion is illegal and, therefore, that "the doc is fair game" for a would-be murderer?
"Re: so much for thou shalt not kill"

And, actually, the bill is about abortion: Jensen's denial that the bill isn't about killing abortion doctors doesn't quite make sense, says Jillian Rayfield at Talking Points Memo. "The law already protects people (including, presumably, pregnant women) who commit murder in self-defense, and those who might commit murder while defending someone else."
"South Dakota bill could legalize murder of abortion providers"

This is part of something bigger: This bill is part of the GOP's "recent barrage of anti-reproductive rights bills [that] betray 'a broader national strategy' by pro-life advocates to manufacture callous, often perverse, obstacles to women's reproductive rights," says Tanya Somanader at ThinkProgress. The GOP came into power by promising job creation, but instead they've delivered a vast assault on women's reproductive rights.
"REPORT: The five ways that the GOP is trying to eradicate a woman’s right to choose"

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