A bill pending in the South Dakota state House would expand the definition of “justifiable homicide” to include killing in defense of a fetus – a step that some analysts fear could lead to open season on abortion providers.
South Dakota has a reputation for pushing the envelope in restricting access to abortion, but HB 1171 is believed to be the first proposal of its kind. It would allow a pregnant woman to use deadly force to protect her unborn child, but her spouse, partner, parent or child could also take that step.
Would that mean that a South Dakota man who objected to his wife or girlfriend getting an abortion she wants to have could waste the doctor who’s about to perform it?
State Rep. Phil Jensen, the Republican sponsor of the legislation, said that’s absurd.
“This code only deals with illegal acts,” Jensen told the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent. “Abortion is legal in this country. This has nothing to do with abortion.”
The House is scheduled to take up the bill Wednesday. State Rep. Peggy Gibson, a Democrat, says she plans to introduce an amendment that would clarify the language could not be used to justify killing a doctor, nurse or other member of an abortion clinic’s staff.
“We’re taking South Dakota back into the cave age, the Neanderthal age,” Gibson said.
Planned Parenthood flies a doctor in once a week to perform abortions at a clinic in South Dakota, the only location where the procedure is available there.