Following a national outcry, lawmakers in South Dakota have shelved a bill some say would allow the killing of doctors who perform abortions.
Accoring the New York Times, the legislation was postponed indefinitely on Wednesday. The newspaper quortes House speaker, Val Rausch, who says the legislation has been shelved, pending a decision on whether to allow a vote, amend the language or drop it entirely.
Original Story, February, 15
Does a bill working its way through the South Dakota legislature allow for the killing of abortion providers? Its author insists it does not, but not everyone is convinced.
Elizabeth Nash, a policy analyst at the Guttmacher Institute, a group that tracks abortion laws says it's the first of its kind in the nation.
"We have not seen anything like this before. It's really chilling."
HB 1171 would amend South Dakota law to include the following language:
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.
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.
Republican State Rep. Phil Jensen introduced the bill. He says the change would only apply to illegal acts, and since abortion is legal, it would not be included.
Jensen insists his goal is to bring "consistency" to state law which already allows those who commit crimes resulting in the death of fetuses to be charged with manslaughter.
Jensen disagrees with the argument that his bill puts abortion providers in danger. "You can fantasize all you want, but this is pretty clear cut," he told The Washington Post on Tuesday. "Never say never, but if some loony did what you're suggesting, then this law wouldn't apply to them. It wouldn't be justifiable homicide."
Jensen's bill gained national attention after an article was published in Mother Jones magazine. In it, Vicki Saporta, the president of the National Abortion Federation says "The bill in South Dakota is an invitation to murder abortion providers."
During his trial in early 2010, Scott Roeder tried to argue he was justified in killing Wichita abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. Roeder is serving a life sentence.
South Dakota has some of the toughest anti-abortion laws in the country. It also has one of the lowest abortion rates. The legislature tried twice to ban abortion, but voters overturned the ban in 2006 and 2008.