Wednesday, February 16, 2011

South Dakota jealous of all the attention other anti-choice legislation getting, attempts to up the ante by legalizing Jesus-approved terrorism

*Update: While I was finishing this up it looks like Jensen, upon much soul searching and screeching about how those mean old pro-choice liberals were trying to make him look bad when all he wants to do is let some people shoot doctors, has decided maybe it's actually not a great idea to insert language into state law that would allow for the legal assassination of abortion providers by citizens. What a brilliant idea, I suppose it time to give credit where credit is due.

Oh wait, no. What I meant to say was are you kidding me? What the hell is wrong with people that this would even be something that is up for discussion?

Apparently this blog is just going to turn into an all-abortion-all-the-damn-time blog.

I suppose I should give you the back story here - South Dakota State Representative Phil Jensen decided a few days ago that the state's self-defense laws needed to be changed in order to extend them to protection of the unborn. Jensen claims:

"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-girlfriend'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."

The law as it stands now:

22-16-34. Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person while resisting any attempt to murder such person, or to commit any felony upon him or her, or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person is.

Jensen would like to make the following (in bold) changes:

22-16-34. 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.

South Dakota, like many states, already has fetal homicide laws in place (these are also problematic, but we'll tackle them at a different time). The unlawful termination of a fetus is already considered a felony, and as such, Jensen's example is already covered. I'll repeat - there is no logical reason for Jensen's language to be added to state law.

Jensen's answer to that annoying question of whether or not this is a threat to abortion providers is as follows:

"It would if abortion was illegal," he told me. "This code only deals with illegal acts. Abortion is legal in this country. This has nothing to do with abortion."

Well, not exactly. First, we know that a whole crowd of well-known rabid-anti-choice groups testified in favor of these changes. So I don't think we can quite state that it has nothing to do with abortion and be taken seriously. Secondly, the extension of this protection to acts that are considered legal in some circumstances is the only thing that is being changed in this law.

I've read Jensen's changes over and over again, and I honestly can't see how it doesn't allow justifiable homicide in regards to abortion providers. Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but to me it appears to state that homicide is justifiable if someone is attempting to murder you, or if someone is attempting to commit a felony against you, or if anyone is attempting to harm an unborn child to a degree that might cause death to that unborn child. Obviously murder and committing felonies are illegal acts. The destruction of an "unborn child", in the case of an abortion, however, is not. But there's no language that specifies that - if he had gone with "unlawful" harm to the unborn, I suppose it would work, even if redundant.

And South Dakota is basically mecca when it comes to the Anti-Choice movement. They've already pushed the "women are stupid" waiting period to 72 hours, force women to be read a "no really, women are stupid" script informing them that they are terminating a "unique human being", and even had a great time straight-up lying to women about mental health risks until it was smacked down by a judge in 2009 (but is being appealed). Mistermix over at Balloon Juice, a South Dakota native, points out that given the culture there, it's really not surprising that South Dakota would be the first attempt to pass legalized terrorism towards abortion providers, being that they've already successfully chased permanent doctors out of the state:

Buck [Williams] retired sometime in the late 90's. Since then, Planned Parenthood has been flying in doctors from Minneapolis to work in their Sioux Falls bunker. Unlike Williams and Munson, who delivered babies and saved women's lives as part of their regular practices, these "abortionists" have no connection to the community. For better or worse, Munson and Williams were household names, and it just wouldn't have been decent for the legislature contemplating an open season on the men who delivered their kids and grandkids.

Digby also points out recent legislation and reminds us that this is also the land of sodomized-christian-virgins-only exceptions and the ever so creeptacular purity balls.

So let's not pretend this is about "legal consistency" and not abortion. And being that Jensen only started to backpedal after the media flipped the switch on the large, white-hot spotlight and aimed it directly at his bill, being that we are talking about a crowd that has managed to reinforce the notion over and over again these past few weeks that death of actualized persons is now fair play in the "fetus > you" game, and being that whenever violence does happen anti-choicers find a way to place blame for the tragedy on the evil profession instead of the terrorists, I can't really give them the benefit of the doubt anymore. I have no way of knowing what's in their hearts of these guys. It's possible they are really that stupid and didn't think about the consequences of leaving something like justifiable homicide laws vague, particularly when dealing with at topic that is well known for bringing out violence in the past. It's possible that this was meant to be a a clear thumbs up to encourage domestic terrorism. But personally, I think it's a blatant attempt at intimidation - clinic workers are already fully aware that they are putting their lives at risk every day, but at the very least, they know law is still on their side. This bill to me seems to be an attempt to upset that balance, sending a clear warning to abortion providers that they are not protected by law in South Dakota - so stay the hell out.

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