South Dakota is not a normal place.
In South Dakota, if a woman feels she needs an abortion, she must first go to her doctor, who is required to offer her a look at a sonogram so that she may actually see the fetus, then he must read her a state-mandated script trying to talk her out of it. (“The abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” Until very recently the script also said that abortion was a “known medical risk” and “increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide” as well as stating that the mother already had a state-protected “existing relationship with that unborn human being.” These statements were removed for being untruthful and misleading.) Next a woman must submit to a counseling session that discusses psychological impact, breast cancer, and how much pain the fetus is going to be in, before she must finally wait 24 hours to think about it before she can go forward with the operation.
The last abortion provider left the state in 1994. Currently, the only way to actually receive the procedure in South Dakota is to travel to Sioux Falls on the one day out the month that Planned Parenthood flies a doctor in to a clinic there. This is a full-day’s drive for many women, and hits the poorest/most uneducated/most likely to need an abortion the hardest.
On the ninth of February state Representative Phil Jensen introduced Bill HB 1171. The intention of this bill, as explained by Rep. Jensen, was to bring the rules regarding defense of fetuses in line with the self defense of any other person. To wit, it is permissible in South Dakota to kill a person seeking to kill you, and this bill looks to extend that same protection to the unborn. As explained, this looks like any of an endless parade of bills introduced to incrementally grant full personhood to fetuses and eventually do away with abortion altogether. However, that aside, the idea of a law that makes it okay to shoot a dude in the brainpan if he comes after your pregnant stomach with the meathook that crazed hillbilly doctors used to replace his hand after it was eaten by starved goats seems like an acceptable concept.
Unfortunately, that isn’t what the erstwhile Representative wrote. No, the language used in the bill was thus:
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.
While this wording certainly covers Rep. Jensen’s explanation, according to legal experts, it could also be interpreted as permission to shoot abortion providers in the commission of their duties. Self defense in the name of the fetus has been used more than once in legal defense of the last twenty five attempts to assassinate abortion providers in the past eighteen years. (Eight of these assassinations were successful.) Jensen vociferously defended his bill, saying it had nothing to do with abortion… at first. Later, after his bill began receiving national attention, Jensen decided that maybe it could stand a little revision. (Presumably after discussing the matter with his lawyers.) Most recently Jensen has withdrawn the bill entirely, with no indication that he intends to ever move forward with it again. My guess is that once it really hit the news, the good Representative balked at becoming “the Doctor Killer.”
For the record, I do consider abortion to be murder. I just don’t consider it to be as important as the life and happiness of the mother, who is in a much better position to gauge her ability to raise a well-adjusted human being than a bunch of cranks in a state capitol. My thinking is that if she doesn’t think she can do a good job of it, I probably don’t want that kid out on the streets.
Well, maybe if you can promise me he’ll stay in South Dakota.