Last updated on 2014.11.04
Update: We still haven't passed a state budget.
Mandy at DakotaWomen reports that our legislators are running scared from Rep. Phil Jensen's major screw-up of HB 1171, the now nationally known "shoot the doc" abortion bill. HB 1171 started as a measure to make explicit a pregnant woman's right to lay the lethal smack down on anyone threatening her unborn child. That wording may be potentially alarming as another brick in the misguided fetal rights wall, but if I see some thug beating a pregnant woman and she's got a gun handy, I'll yell, "Shoot!"
But then prime sponsor Rep. Jensen (R-33/Rapid City) looked up from his copy of Muslims Will Eat Our Little Girls and decided his bill didn't go far enough. He hoghoused his own bill to justify homocide by any person resisting any attempt "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."
Of thirteen members of the House Judiciary Committee, only three recognized how dangerous that language is and voted against it. Kudos to Representatives Peggy Gibson (the lone woman on the panel), Kevin Killer, and Marc Feinstein. half-kudo to Rep. Gene Abdallah for at least excusing himself from this odious vote.
But now we have a bill before the House that could have been cribbed from Scott Roeder's cell-block whining about why killing Dr. George Tiller was justified. (Reminder: it wasn't.) Mr. Crissman and a few commenters at Dakota War College offer weak justifications and word games. Rep. Jensen and others try to play word games, suggesting that this bill is only a problem if we accept the argument that abortion is murder, a false logical dilemma about which you can hear the abortion-ban promoters chuckling under their foul breath.
Pastor and Representative Steve Hickey (R-9/Sioux Falls) is trying to spin the uproar as spin, but he too misses the point (and I differ respectfully here with the interpretation of my liberal blog comrade Mr. Feser) that the word "murder" is already in the self-defense statute, and that the Jensen hoghouse inserts a very important or and then refers to harm likely to result in death. The uproar about HB 1171 is not simply the liberal media admitting that it secretly agrees with Roger Hunt and Leslee Unruh that abortion is murder. The uproar is about legal language that would allow any concerned citizen to march down to Planned Parenthood and open fire. But however we parse those words, the good Reverend is already distancing himself from the Jensen amendment.
Rep. Rev. Hickey isn't the only Republican on the run. According to Mandy, the House Republicans have deferred HB 1171 in hopes of fixing Rep. Jensen's grave mistake and keep from declaring it open season on abortion doctors.
I have a better suggestion: just let this bill die, and get back to the budget. And District 33 voters, please consider revoking your Representative Jensen's license to write legislation.
Update 12:33 CST: RCJ's David Montgomery reports that Attorney General Marty Jackley spoke to Rep. Jensen about HB 1217 yesterday. Rep. Jensen is now considering new language to close the doctor-hunting loophole his hoghouse amendment created. The bill supposedly on hold until Tuesday, Feb. 22... since, strangely, Rep. Jensen needs until Saturday to decide whether he ought to fix his legislation so people can't shoot doctors.
Update 15:33 CST: The American Civil Liberties Union agrees that declaring open season on doctors is unwise. Their press release:
A law being considered by the South Dakota House of Representatives today would provide legal protection for committing murder in order to prevent conduct "likely to result in the death of" an embryo or fetus. The law raises serious concerns about the safety of abortion providers. The language of the bill is such that if a woman chooses to end a pregnancy, the new law would provide protection to her husband or boyfriend for killing the medical personnel involved. The law would classify such an act as "justifiable homicide."
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of South Dakota warned that such a law could lead to violence against medical staff who provide abortion care.
Says Robert Doody, ACLU of South Dakota Chapter Director: "This bill could allow those bent on killing abortion providers to do so with impunity. The women of South Dakota are already badly in need of health services. This law would place those that wish to provide badly needed medical care to South Dakota women in grave danger. It would be irresponsible and dangerous to pass this law."
And from Talcott Camp, Deputy Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project: "This law is a stark example of the degree to which women's health is under assault nationwide. It is outrageous to suggest that it is justifiable to murder a doctor for providing legal medical care. It is particularly shocking to introduce such a bill in light of the real threats of murder abortion providers already face across the country -- threats that have been carried out all too often. To pass a bill that could provide legal protections for harming abortion providers recklessly endangers the lives of doctors, their staff and the women they serve." [ACLU-SD press release, 2011.02.16]