A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of “justifiable homicide” to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus—a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions. The Republican-backed legislation, House Bill 1171, has passed out of committee on a nine-to-three party-line vote, and is expected to face a floor vote in the state’s GOP-dominated House of Representatives soon.all flippant one-liners aside, though: what the fuck?
The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Phil Jensen, a committed foe of abortion rights, alters the state’s legal definition of justifiable homicide by adding language stating that a homicide is permissible if committed by a person “while resisting an attempt to harm” that person’s unborn child or the unborn child of that person’s spouse, partner, parent, or child. If the bill passes, it could in theory allow a woman’s father, mother, son, daughter, or husband to kill anyone who tried to provide that woman an abortion—even if she wanted one.
if you click over, you will see that rep. jensen's response to the internet at large asking that very question is "it's only if the person being justifiably homicided is trying to commit a crime!" and that sounds great until you remember that this is a state that actually had a total abortion ban signed into law in 2006.
i've had this article kicking around my inbox with a "blogqueue" tag for the past week and a half while i tried to decide exactly what i wanted to say. i still can't really organize my thoughts about it; just rereading it now has made me sort of sick to my stomach.
all of these efforts to make abortion more difficult, dangerous, and expensive are textbook studies of the law of unintended consequences. a zygote is a legal person? whoops, a woman who miscarries has just committed manslaughter. your daughter wants an abortion? south dakota wants to make it legally justifiable for you to kill whoever's taking her to the clinic and every person who works there.
i have a lot of trouble believing that anyone could be evil enough to intend these effects. but honestly? i think evil would be a much more comfortable explanation. as it is, the conclusion i keep drawing, over and over again, is that these statutes come into being not because antichoicers are evil, or even because they're stupid. it's because they don't care.
they don't care that pregnancy can kill us. they don't care that even with all contraceptive due diligence, accidents still happen. they don't care that an egg can't tell your boyfriend's and your rapist's spermatozoa apart. they don't care about the millions of single mothers living in poverty, and they don't care about the millions of children in the foster system who despair of ever finding loving families.
misogyny is undoubtedly evil, but the thing about an oppressive system is that it makes tons of people, who given the choice would not choose to be oppressors, complicit in oppression. and the rhetoric about protecting life -- in which my esteemed congressman is apparently so well-versed -- is a smokescreen that exists to maintain that complicity. and it is a mistake to tar all antichoicers with the same brush. possessing the privilege of being insulated from poverty, the fear of sexual violence, and inadequate health care doesn't make someone a bad person; only refusing to own it does. and if someone doesn't care about you, it is wrong to condemn them without giving them the chance to care by using your voice.
so i guess what i'm trying to say is hooray for mother jones. hopefully that article will separate a few more of the well-meaning but ignorant prolifers from monsters like phil jensen.