What Exactly is Justifiable Homicide?

by Janelle

Reading through the Mother Jones article on South Dakota’s recently proposed House Bill 1171, it is obvious that there is quite the controversy with wording, or lack thereof. The law that is under consideration will redefine the terminology of a “justifiable homicide,” and has been interpreted to include murders that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus.

Although sponsor, Republican Phil Jensen, originally did not return phone calls to comment on the bill, he was quick to defend himself and the bill after the article was published. As explained in Kate Sheppard’s article, “South Dakota moves to Legalize Killing Abortion Providers,” since 1993, anti-abortion extremists have assassinated 8 doctors and 17 have been victims of murder attempts. These perpetrators in trials have used defense terminology including “justifiable homicide”.

Because abortion is not legally banned, South Dakota has made it nearly impossible for women who are seeking abortions. Bill 1171 may be, yet another, obstacle for these women, as well as another proposed bill that would potentially force women to attend counseling at Crisis Pregnancy Center before an abortion.

Rep. Jensen is co-sponsored by 22 other state representatives and four senators for this bill that will alter the state of South Dakota’s legal definition of justifiable homicide for the protection of an unborn child.

“Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person in the lawful defense of such person, or of his or her husband, wife, parent, child, master, mistress, or servant, or the unborn child of any such enumerated person, if there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design to commit a felony, or to do some great personal injury, and imminent danger of such design being.” (http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2011/Bill.aspx?File=HB1171HJU.htm)

However, Jensen argues that the bill has no association with abortion and is hopeful to bring “consistency” to criminal codes in South Dakota. Whether or not the bill was intended to protect the rights of an unborn child and somewhat legalize the killing of abortion providers, the ambiguous wording is alarming for both pro-choice and anti-abortion activists.

Read the full story here.

Be sure to stay tuned for recent updates from Rep. Phil Jensen and the rewording of Bill 1171.

Picture from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:March_for_Women’s_Lives_detail.jpg

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