South Dakota Stalls Bill That Could Legalize Killing Abortion Doctors

Governor calls the bill a "very bad idea"

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South Dakota has put on hold a bill that would redefine justifiable homicide to permit killing someone to prevent a fetus from being hurt--a bill many interpreted as legalizing violence against abortion providers. State House speaker Val Rausch said he hasn't decided whether the amend the bill or just spike it, The New York Times' A. G. Sulzberger reports. Gov. Dennis Daugaard's spokesman called the legislation "a very bad idea."

The bill permits killing "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." There was some dispute over whether the measure would actually legalize killing abortion doctors. Slate's Dave Weigel wrote that it would only allow killing abortion doctors if abortion was illegal. But Time's Amy Sullivan notes that "whether or not the bill actually would permit such acts hardly matters if anti-abortion activists think that it does."

Weigel adds that the outcry over the bill is all part of a classic Democratic strategy on abortion: "finding a controversial bit of legislation and making it toxic."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.