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South Dakota Law Would Legalize Killing Abortion Doctors

July 30th, 2012

South Dakota abortion law

A modification to a self-defense law has caused South Dakota House Bill 1171 to allow for the legalized killing of abortion doctors.

A new bill has been proposed in the state of South Dakota in which the legal definition of “justifiable homicide” may include any killings that are done in order to prevent the harm or death of a fetus. This would mean that doctors who perform abortions could be legally killed. The legislation, House Bill 1171, will be put to a floor vote at South Dakota’s House of Representatives after having passed out of committee. If the bill passes, it means that the family of any woman who has an abortion all have the legal right to kill anyone who provided the procedure, even if the woman sought out the procedure in the first place. This bill most likely lead to one or more landmark cases regarding abortion if it passes, on equal or greater standing than the now-famous Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion in the US. The bill is being backed by the Republican Party and is being sponsored by Rep. Phil Jensen, who is an outspoken protester against the procedure.

In the last 19 years, pro-life extremists have murdered 8 doctors and have attempted the assassination of 17 more. These extremists could be protected under the new definition of justifiable homicide should the bill pass. The term “unborn child” was not used in the original version of the bill. In fact, it was brought to attention merely in an effort to clarify justifiable homicide laws in South Dakota. A large faction of members from right wing groups that included the Family Heritage Alliance, Concerned Women for America and others attended the hearing in order to help amend the bill.

According to a lobbyist of the South Dakota Advocacy Network for Women, Kristin Aschenbrenner, the bill was always meant to be a fetal personhood bill from the start. It was merely disguised as a self-defense bill that was immediately amended to include the defense of unborn children. Sara Rosenbaum, who is extremely familiar with abortion court cases and teaches law at George Washington University, believes that the bill is legally questionable. She added that it is unconstitutional for a state to make it illegal to perform a constitutionally legal act.

South Dakota hasn’t had a provider for the procedure in the state since 1994. Not only do they have some of the strictest laws concerning the procedure in the entire country, but they also have one of the lowest rates of the procedure in the country as well. Doctors have to be flown in by Planned Parenthood from out of state, and many women have to drive upwards of six hours in order to receive the procedure. Women who undergo abortions are required by state law to undergo counseling and must wait a full 24 hours before having the procedure. The doctor performing the procedure must read a statement to the patient that is meant to discourage her from having the procedure. Up until 2009, the statement also stated that the risk of suicide increases with the procedure. This, however, was forced out of the statement by a US District Court Judge, who found that portion of the script to be misleading as well as untruthful

House 1217 is another South Dakota bill being proposed in order to discourage the procedures in the state. The bill would require women wanting the procedure to receive counseling at a Crisis Pregnancy Center before doing so. The CPC is not regulated and tends to be run by anti-abortion volunteers. According to a congressional investigation into the CPC, the center often provides women with false and misleading information in regards to the procedure.

These bills are a small part of a larger strategy by pro-life groups to continuously put up legal obstructions in order to discourage women who want to have the procedure and could possibly lead to many more court cases.


  1. Rev. Jamie R. Dean says:

    As a minister I feel abortions is wrong unless it is in cases of rape or incest but I feel a women should have the right to do as she feels with her own body. I do not believe that a state or federal government should have any right to force a women to do their moral will. In this case I believe that if God see’s displeasure in abortion than at the day of judgement it will be God and only God that should have that say. If it was the man that was being dictated to what he could do with his own body the laws would be different and thoughts on the subject would be different and yes I am a man..

    • Bill von Mayer says:

      Very surprised to hear such a comment from a reverend. I agree that in extreme cases, such as rape, incest, risk of life of the mother, etc; maybe… But this is not about telling women what to do with their bodies. They can smoke, do drugs, hang themselves, or have a healthy life. That is at their discretion. What is not Ok is for women to decide what happens to the life of an unborn baby. It is not their body, is not their choice. Do you think the baby does not deserve the right to chose to live?

  2. Bill says:

    The unborn fetus is either a human life, or it is not. If it is life, there is no inconvenience which would justify his or her contrived, planned, deliberate death. If it is not, then we are governed by our sense of right and wrong. There should be no doubt that it is some form of life. A simple cell in the human body is life. The question, again, is whether it has become “human”. But even if it is not human, do we have the right to terminate the life inside of it? If I owned a puppy, maybe just a few minutes old, would there be a set of circumstances which would justify it’s elimination? I know this happens, but how would the average person react to it? Don’t we tend to be repulsed by these types of things when they are not disguised as a woman’s choice or a woman’s right? How is this life different?

    I think it’s funny that we go to great extremes to protect some forms of life, yet allow potentially human life to be discarded as worthless. I’m not talking about the internal struggle experienced by the woman. I’m sure it’s a terrible choice to have to make. My heart goes out to victims of incest and rape and I can’t begin to imagine the pain they’ve endured. I don’t blame them for wanting a solution to their problem. I do however blame a society which has promoted this measure as a solution. We should embrace, invite and help these victims to cope and overcome their pain. We should be promoting life respecting options instead of always killing the problem. We see it in so many other areas of society and it’s disturbing.

    This article is a perfect example. People who are against the murder of humans may soon have the right to murder humans who murder humans. And it makes perfect sense to such a large portion of the population. How did we get to this point.

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