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South Dakota Lawmaker Denies His Bill Is a License to Kill Abortion Providers

Posted Feb 16, 2011 7:12 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A South Dakota lawmaker is defending his bill that says killings to protect unborn children are justifiable homicide.

Critics have said the bill is a “license to kill” abortion providers, but chief sponsor Rep. Phil Jensen of Rapid City says that’s not true, the Associated Press reports.

Rep. Phil Jensen says self-defense is allowed only for illegal attacks, not legal acts such as abortion. “This has nothing to do with abortion,” he told AP. “This is a self-defense bill.”

The bill originally allowed a pregnant woman to use force to protect her unborn child, but changes in committee allow a woman’s relatives to claim justifiable homicide if they kill someone to protect the fetus.

Rep. Peggy Gibson of Huron has said the bill’s language could allow killers of abortion providers to claim self-defense, and could allow women hurt in a domestic dispute to kill the abuser, according to the AP story. "It's an open invitation to allow every domestic dispute involving a pregnant woman to escalate into justifiable homicide," Gibson said.

Jensen says he is meeting with the state attorney general "to see if we can't come up with something that would be perhaps more clear and more palatable,” the Argus Leader reports.

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