Is South Dakota considering legalizing the killing of abortion providers?

I’d reply but I think Oakminster just above your post about sums up what I’d have said in response to this.

ETA: I will add:

*“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.” *

Seems that “…or to harm…” opens the door to mean not just someone attempting to murder the unborn (which you noted an abortion doctor is not doing) but to cause the unborn harm (which the abortion doctor clearly is doing).

Does South Dakota even have any abortion providers?

It’s relevant as hell to the handful of doctors willing to provide abortion services. And the people that love those doctors, and really don’t want their loved ones to be murdered. And to the women who want or need such services that may now have a much harder time finding a provider…

Forgot where I read it just recently but apparently no, not really.

Supposedly some clinic flies in a doctor once a week for the service at one place in the state. Women will drive hours to get there.

I’ll look for the cite for that if you want.

Heh. That’s pretty good, but really, isn’t the converse pretty much just the same? I mean, even given the most generous interpretation of what this law does, what cockamamie situation necessitated its creation in the first place? Presumably, it’s already legal to kill someone in defense of your own life in South Dakota. Likewise, I think you can get away with killing someone in defense of your wife’s life. So, what purpose does this bill serve? What loophole is it closing? Because I’m having trouble coming up with a whole lot of situations where someone would attempt to kill a pregnant woman’s fetus, unless they’re also trying to kill the woman herself - which, as I said, I’d think was already covered by existing law. Unless there’s been a spate of people going around forcing abortions on South Dakota women without their consent, this seems like some pretty pointless legislation.

I was also going to point out to Airmen that the bill’s language isn’t limited to murder but also “harm” and “great personal injury”, but I see I’ve been beaten to it, and the language of the bill is such that “harm” and “great personal injury” clearly are terms to be applied to the fetus, even if we grant that “murder” is not.

Frankly, I don’t see why this bill doesn’t excuse a man who shoots a doctor he suspects is about to perform an abortion on the man’s wife or daughter. Does South Dakota have mandatory teen notification laws? if so, the moment a teenage girl tells her parents she is pregnant, I don’t see what stops them from killing any doctor she visits on the “reasonable ground to apprehend a design to … do some great personal injury”. The “imminent” aspect might help, though it’ll mean clinics will need extras security to prevent someone from barging in and opening fire.

What problems are the “unborn child” parts of this bill supposed to address? Is there a wave of fetal assaults underway in South Dakota?

Well said.

The bill is not designed to close any loopholes-it is designed to create loopholes. At the very least, it is designed to incite others to attack/harm/kill abortion providers.

It seems to me that it is trying to remove the argument that if a pregnant woman loses her fetus due to an assault it’s not murder. Like I said before…

Since people want to ignore what I said but argue with what I said, and all.

I see. You said it, so it must be so.

Case closed.

There is only one abortion clinic in South Dakota. It is operated by Planned Parenthood.

However, …

Since there are no abortion clinics in South Dakota, what is the purpose of the proposed law?

I agree but as noted there are not a whole lot of them anyway in South Dakota.

I think where you will see the loophole manifest more is in pregnant women killing other people.

No, I do not think they will all start plotting murder.

Think about it though.

Women already have self defense protection same as everyone.

Now pregnant women can fall back on the worry not just for their life but also for their unborn child’s life.

Look at the law and consider the implications.

Does a woman have to know, 100%, she is pregnant or just believe she is pregnant (I do not know…I am really asking)? Imagine she missed her period and told her BF she is pregnant and things go south from there. She kills the boyfriend in the ensuing fight.

So does it matter if she was actually pregnant or just that she thought she was pregnant?

Also, the law notes, “…harm the unborn child of such person in a manner and to a degree likely to result in the death of the unborn child…”.

Are people doctors? Who can possibly discern where that line is drawn? Pregnancies are delicate things (don’t most pregnancies miscarry as a matter of nature?). Stress can cause a miscarriage. Lots of things can. How will the law in a court room decide where “likely to result in the death of the unborn” is? Who is supposed to know that? How can they know that?

Make no mistake before you all pile on. I am not suggesting women will start planning murders because of this and use this as cover. More I think things will continue as normal but now a woman who kills (and would have anyway with or without this law) has an additional hidey-hole to evade prosecution.

Lawyers have used the Twinkie Defense. Surely they will use this if they can.

I don’t know about now, but when I was in college 15 years ago, they had just one. His name was Buck Williams and he always wore a bulletproof vest and carried gun for his own protection. North Dakota had none.

Um…not really.

Twinkie Defense wikipedia


If a known pregnant South Dakota woman travels out of state to have an abortion, under the proposed law could she be charged with a crime upon her return? Would this very perception have a chilling effect upon pregnant women contemplating an abortion, regardless of the proposed law’s actual “authority” to effect an arrest for a legal out of state medical procedure?

It does leave open interesting possibilities though.

Let say South Dakota criminalizes performing third trimester abortions, with an exemption for the life/health of the mother. I think this can be done in a manner which passes muster under the current interpretation of the constitution.

Now, if a person honestly and reasonably believes his girlfriend is 7 months pregnant, when in fact she is 5 months pregnant, would such a law allow him a defense if he shoots the doctor in the OR?

Does it matter what the offense the doctor is committing actually is?

Ok, fair enough.

Point really being is if a defense is available people are likely to go for it if they can.

This adds a defense to murder which previously did not exist. Given the lack of abortion doctors in South Dakota (and afterwards probably the absolute non-existence of them in South Dakota if the law passes) I suspect it’ll be women killing guys where you’ll actually see this defense used.

I am doubting there are a lot of women being unduly prosecuted because of a lack of this law today so I suspect this will tend to see the guilty go free if anything.

Even here though I do not think it’ll amount to much. According to this there were 21 murders in South Dakota in 2009. They do not break it out but willing to bet most of those were men committing them. Then consider if any were women how many were pregnant when it happened.

Barely registers really.

Perhaps a greater fear is if a bigger state (population-wise) sees success here and tries to emulate it.

How would killing a doctor be classified as a ‘lawful defense’ under any circumstance?? I mean, someone might be stupid enough to try this, but I can’t seriously see how a person killing a doctor performing an abortion on a woman who asked for it (it’s not like doctors go around performing abortions on woman randomly chosen off the street and against their wills). :dubious:

I can see that the proposal was poorly written, and I’m a serious pro-choice guy, but I think that people are getting a bit loopy here. Granted, IANAL, nor do I play one on the Straightdope, but this seems to be a serious ‘get a grip’ subject to me.

From the earlier linked article:

A lot of things ‘could incite violence’, and it’s possible that this could make some dumbshit do something really stupid thinking they could get away with it…but I’m not seeing that they WOULD get away with killing a doctor under the convoluted set of conditions and contortions speculated about. From my non-legal understanding of the law, of course.


Yes, you’re right, this is exactly what is going to happen.

Any conservative here who said something this insane would be piled on in a matter of seconds, but apparently nobody caught this bit of absurd left-wing paranoia.

Well, what you said was irrelevant. Abortion isn’t murder. Duh. And if the goal of this legislation is that assault of a pregnant woman causing her to abort her fetus is to be treated as murder, there are clearer ways to express so, namely by adding an enhancement to existing assault laws.

This isn’t hair splitting; it’s pointing out that the goals of this bills (assuming the goals are as you describe them) are at odds with its wording, which fails to make a distinction between a woman who is seeking an abortion and one who is not.

Let’s assume (and not totally without basis. I figure) that the fetus is effectively a child for the purposes of this bill. Even if the custodial parent was standing by, giving full consent while this child was beaten by a third party, I assume this bill (almost certainly quite redundantly to existing legislation) provides an affirmative defense if the other parent jumps in to stop the assault, even if they kill the assailant in the process, no?

So what’s the difference between that and shooting an abortion doctor? I don’t see a distinction in the bill as written.