Greg Sargent spoke with State Representative Phil Jensen, the sponsor of that South Dakota bill that could legalize killing an abortion doctor or a woman who seeks an abortion. Here’s how he defended the legislation against allegations that it was about allowing the murder of doctors:
Jensen insisted that the bill’s primary goal is to bring “consistency” to South Dakota criminal code, which already allows people who commit crimes that result in the death of fetuses to be charged with manslaughter. The new measure expands the state’s definition of “justifiable homicide” by adding a clause applying it to someone who is “resisting any attempt” to murder of an unborn child or to harm an unborn child in a way likely to result in its death.
Is it me or is this is a horrible defense of a horrible bill? Did Jensen really believe this would make the thing more palatable? What if a pregnant woman is indecisive about having an abortion — resistant to the idea, but undecided — and the doctor or nurse or counselor outlines the procedure in a way that isn’t negative and anti-abortion, and the woman reluctantly agrees to have the procedure. Couldn’t that doctor (etc) could legally be shot and killed under this law? Or, at least, couldn’t an adequate defense of the killer could be made with that line of reasoning?
“Say an ex-boyfriend who happens to be father of a baby doesn’t want to pay child support for the next 18 years, and he beats on his ex-girfriend’s abdomen in trying to abort her baby. If she did kill him, it would be justified. She is resisting an effort to murder her unborn child.”
Sorry, Jensen, it’s already against the law to “unlawfully” kill a fetus in that manner:
Penal Code Sec. 187. (a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.
(b) This section shall not apply to any person who commits an act
that results in the death of a fetus if any of the following apply:
(1) The act complied with the Therapeutic Abortion Act, Article 2
(commencing with Section 123400) of Chapter 2 of Part 2 of Division
106 of the Health and Safety Code.
(2) The act was committed by a holder of a physician’s and surgeon’
s certificate, as defined in the Business and Professions Code, in a
case where, to a medical certainty, the result of childbirth would be
death of the mother of the fetus or where her death from childbirth,
although not medically certain, would be substantially certain or
more likely than not.
(3) The act was solicited, aided, abetted, or consented to by the
mother of the fetus.
(c) Subdivision (b) shall not be construed to prohibit the
prosecution of any person under any other provision of law.
The law, as near as I can tell, wouldn’t make abortion an unlawful killing of a fetus, but would open a loophole for people who consider it to be murder — therefore preventing the murder would become justifiable. Very clever. Cleverly awful.
The upshot here is this: the measure will never pass. But that’s not the idea. The idea — in fact, the strategy from the right — is to terrorize anyone who would consider having or performing an abortion by fomenting the idea that violence against them is somehow permissible.