Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 24, 2011

EXPANDING 'JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDE' EFFORTS.... It was rather shocking last week to learn about South Dakota's "justifiable homicide" bill. The way the proposal had been crafted, it seemed to open the door to making it legal to kill medical professionals who perform abortions. When a national controversy ensued, the bill was shelved indefinitely.

The underlying idea, however, appears to be popping up elsewhere. Take Iowa, for example. (via RWW)

Currently, abortion is also settled law in Iowa. But House File 153, sponsored by 28 Republicans, challenges it. Under that bill, the state would be mandated to recognize and protect "life" from the moment of conception until "natural death" with the full force of the law and state and federal constitutions. Essentially, the bill declares that from the moment a male sperm and a female ovum join to create a fertilized egg that a person exists.

House File 7, which has been sponsored by 29 GOP House members, seeks to expand state law regarding use of reasonable force, including deadly force. Current state laws provide that citizens are not required to retreat from their dwelling or place of business if they or a third party are threatened. The proposal would significantly expand this to state that citizens are not required to retreat from "any place at which the person has a right to be present," and that in such instances, the citizen has the right to use reasonable force, including deadly force, to protect himself or a third party from serious injury or death or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

A criminal defense attorney in Des Moines told the Iowa Independent, "[House File 7] explicitly provides that people have a right to defend themselves or others at any place they are legally allowed to be. That would definitely include sidewalks or streets outside of clinics. They could attempt to kill a physician or a clinic worker, and if they did so while believing they were protecting another person, which would be defined under House File 153 as a fetus, then, under this law, they would have the right to do that."

In Nebraska, meanwhile, Republicans are pushing a bill that's nearly identical to the one that got pulled in South Dakota.

The legislation, LB 232, was introduced by state Sen. Mark Christensen, a devout Christian and die-hard abortion foe who is opposed to the prodedure even in the case of rape. Unlike its South Dakota counterpart, which would have allowed only a pregnant woman, her husband, her parents, or her children to commit "justifiable homicide" in defense of her fetus, the Nebraska bill would apply to any third party.

"In short, this bill authorizes and protects vigilantes, and that's something that's unprecedented in our society," Melissa Grant of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland told the Nebraska legislature's judiciary committee on Wednesday. Specifically, she warned, it could be used to target Planned Parenthood's patients and personnel.

For all the ridiculous paranoia on the right about creeping "sharia law," there are now multiple state proposals, published by Republicans, to make it legal to assassinate medical professionals as part of a larger culture war.

Steve Benen 12:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (38)

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And next we will the "Every Sperm is Sacred" bill. . .

Posted by: DAY on February 24, 2011 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

So Republicans are trying to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides pre-natal care to fetuses?
Gonna get my gun. Got some fetuses to defend.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on February 24, 2011 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

So, when do we get to outlawing homosexuality?

Posted by: MattF on February 24, 2011 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder how different the conservative attitude to abortion would be if the mother is forced to give birth despite the likelihood that she'll die meant that the father had to forfeit his life too. And/ or the father had to pay child support for the first 18 years of the kid's life or face jail for that entire period - regardless of the circumstances, e.g. she stole his sperm.

Got raped? Father or brother committed incest? Going to die giving birth? Tough luck ladies, we men just like having the luxury of being sanctimonious without suffering any of the consequences.

Posted by: Kiweagle on February 24, 2011 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

So, theoretically, Sen. Christensen is allowing murder to protect others from "harm." Therefore, if the senator was murdered by a crazed pro-choice fanatic, the killer could claim that they were protecting doctors who perform abortions from being harmed...

Posted by: JEA on February 24, 2011 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

We don't call them the American Taliban for nothing, Steve.

Posted by: mistamatic on February 24, 2011 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

The world is passing these people by very quickly. I think we're hearing their death rattle. BUT...these are the people who form the unwashed minions of the Koch bros. base of voters, so they'll be pampered and coddled as long as they can be depended on to deliver the vote for the big corporate interest.

Over the next few years we'll see revolution in this country. The protests in WI and other states are just the first salvo. I think the big, BIG, issue will ultimately be the outsourcing of jobs. Unemployment isn't going to come down because employment has disappeared. I don't think, in the end, people will have patience for the far right and their weird social issues.

Posted by: SaintZak on February 24, 2011 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Here in Georgia, we thought the archaic law banning Sunday sales of alcohol would get voted up or down in local elections. The Right, after all, is all for States rights and local control of schools. But voters will never get a chance to vote - stalled in the Senate because of the Christian groups who don't want it.

Posted by: mlm on February 24, 2011 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

So the wingnuts are now legalizing and rationalizing terrorism in the name of religious dogma. Bin Laden would be proud.

Posted by: "Fair and Balanced" Dave on February 24, 2011 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

So abortionists and clinic workers and pharmacy workers can just shoot protester because it'll be self-defence. Brilliant.

Posted by: jon on February 24, 2011 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

So, if life begins at conception, should we be celebrating conception day rather than birth day? That will require some adjustment to a few data sets.

Posted by: Sparks on February 24, 2011 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

These people are so crazy they're making me reconsider my commitment to the value of living without guns.

Posted by: chi res on February 24, 2011 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

But hey, Obama is Bush so I'm staying home in 2012 too!!!11!!!!

Posted by: mikefromArlington on February 24, 2011 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Thou shalt not kill. Pretty simple. Except that a church-going buddy of mine says that his pastor is advocating that in the Hewbrew lanquange it's really Thou shalt not murder. Once someone murders (such as unborn fetus), then it is eye-for-eye, tooth-for-tooth, which is the new justification for these legal maneuverings.

And this abortion issue is not just about rape or dying in childbirth, the issue of abortion is a symptom steming from areas that conservatives don't bother to tackle, such as teaching kids about sex and sexual consequences, such as allowing access to birth control, such as quiting the dream of two virgins marrying and start facing the reality that young people want to have sex.

If conservatives allowed preventative measures before an unwanted pregnancy takes place, how far would that go toward alleviating abortions without killing doctors? Nope, they'd rather legislate no-blame murder than give condoms to their teen-agers. ARG!!!

Posted by: Skip on February 24, 2011 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Most of the things you mention is supprisingly legitimate and it makes me wonder why I hadn’t looked at this in this light before. This particular piece really did switch the light on for me personally as far as this particular topic goes. But at this time there is actually just one position I am not too cozy with so whilst I attempt to reconcile that with the actual core theme of the point, allow me observe just what the rest of the subscribers have to point out.

Posted by: Hot news on February 24, 2011 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

A big AMEN and an extra-large HALLELUJAH BROTHER to the sarcasm of mikefromarlington @ 1:08 pm.

Posted by: chi res on February 24, 2011 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

I propose that the first bill be nicknamed "Fertility Clinic Doctors Are Filthy Murderers" and the second "Last Call at the Bar Already?! Where's My Gun?"

Posted by: RSA on February 24, 2011 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

with the gop pulling this shit in mind, i was amused to hear, via npr, the orange krush, speaker boner, complaining how obama's decision on doma was unnecessarily bringing up "divisive social issues"

Posted by: dj spellchecka on February 24, 2011 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

"For all the ridiculous paranoia on the right about creeping "sharia law," there are now multiple state proposals, published by Republicans, to make it legal to assassinate medical professionals as part of a larger culture war."

To be fair, most of them are pretty clear that they have no problem with religiously inspired law, as long as the religion is evangelical christianism. The objection to "sharia law" isn't principled, it's based on the source.

"Except that a church-going buddy of mine says that his pastor is advocating that in the Hewbrew lanquange it's really Thou shalt not murder."

This isn't controversial - King James' translators were imprecise, and as in many other cases their mistake has been the basis for bad English-language theology. The word in the ancient manuscripts was a specific one that didn't include things like lawful executions or war. A different word for killing in general was available but not used.

You still have to be batshit crazy to think killing abortion providers falls outside the narrower word, but the issue of translation exists.

Posted by: drkrick on February 24, 2011 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the URL for Iowa House File 153:

I know that the authors intended this as an anti-abortion bill, but if you read the text, it's actually an animal rights bill. Seriously. It grants ALL life, not just human life, the same rights as humans. On the other hand, the bill also attempts to strip the Iowa Supreme Court of its jurisdiction, so perhaps I shouldn't be expecting too much from the authors.

Posted by: tom veil on February 24, 2011 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

I would like to point out the flaw in Melissa Grant's statement. She said, "this bill authorizes and protects vigilantes". It does no such thing. A vigilante is someone who takes enforcement of the the law into their own hands. Abortion is legal. What the proposed law does do is excuse people for violating the law, but they do not get to be named "vigilante". They would simply be protected murderers.

Posted by: Perspecticus on February 24, 2011 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

The only logical response is ballot initiatives making the assassination of state legislators legal.

Posted by: JMG on February 24, 2011 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously. It grants ALL life, not just human life, the same rights as humans.


Posted by: chi res on February 24, 2011 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

So would a woman who has a miscarriage be guilty of negligent homicide? After all, she let her baby die.

Posted by: dcsusie on February 24, 2011 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

I'm still waiting for one of these oh-so-sure-of their-righteous cause to state what the criminal penalty should be for a woman who seeks out and then pays someone else to abort her fetus. They carry on and on about what should happen to the actual abortion provider, but NEVER have an answer for my question. After all, if abortion is the wanton murder of a defenseless baby, then wouldn't the woman be clearly guilty of soliciting premeditated murder? Basically putting out a "hit" on the fetus? In most cases of murder-for-hire, doesn't the penalty for the person paying for the hit usually match that of the actual triggerman?

Posted by: bikelib on February 24, 2011 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

The sixth commandment does indeed translate to "Thou shalt not murder". The word retzah is also used for wha we'd call manslaughter, negligent homicide, etc. Of course, a couple of chapters later the Torah states that if someone causes a miscarriage, he/she pays a fine. A murderer couldn't get off with a fine. IOW, the fetus is not a human life, and it's not homicide. Jewish tradition is in fact quite clear that life begins at birth, not before, and abortion is permissible for the mother's health, and mandatory to save a woman's life.

Posted by: Werewolf on February 24, 2011 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

"Life begins at conception" is a catchy slogan, easy to spit out at "pro-life" rallies, but it's artifice, because it requires that both the egg and sperm be dead. Medieval thinking held that life could arise out of the inanimate, like flies from dead meat, or like a figure fashioned from clay. Which came first, the chicken or the egg is the same conundrum, pointing out the inadequacy of the word "first" (or "begins"). Properly life began eons ago in the ocean, and somehow survived to the present in an unbroken chain. It's not surprising that someone so self-righteous to murder an adult would be a lazy thinker when it comes to single cells.

This is all picking the nits off of nits. As DAY points out, a boy masturbating is a mass murderer by this thinking, and every adult stem cell should be granted the right to vote, because it's a potential Republican.

Posted by: Keeping Track on February 24, 2011 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Bikelib: I've asked the same question on many blog thread where pro-lifers (pro-life until birth, after, not so much) are more common than here. Never have I received even the attempt at an answer.

But them consistency and logic are not hallmarks of that cast of (?) mind.

Posted by: jrosen on February 24, 2011 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, you guys win. No sharia law, no Islam. So what will our new national religion be?
Christianity, of course.
Sure okay, but which one?
Whaddya mean which one, there's only one.
Nooooo, there's a couple thousand.
No, there ain't. I go to the good ole fashioned Baptist Church, that's Christianity. If it's good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for America.
Glad you narrowed it down. Which Baptist church?
Well, if we're picking Baptist as the one national religion do you want to go with primitive, missionary, southern, charismatic, cooperative...? You Christians will have to agree on one doctrine...
Why do we have to agree? Why can't we all just worship the Christianity we want to and leave it at that?
So you advocate freedom of religion for yourselves?
Heck, yeah this is America!
So the national religion is whatever form of Christianity you want to ascribe to? That's good, because we didn't even talk about the various denominations of Protestants, Lutherans, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Pentacostals, Methodists...

Posted by: Skip on February 24, 2011 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

@Keeping Track - Don't forget about the eggs lost due to a woman's menstrual cycle, which is what effectively made the stem cell debate a complete farce.

And what about an ectopic pregnancy?

Posted by: Kiweagle on February 24, 2011 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

the state would be mandated to recognize and protect "life" from the moment of conception until "natural death"
Does this mean the state must provide food, shelter, and medical care for all who are not able to provide for themselves? Caring for ill health and preventing a person from starving or freezing to death protects that person's life, after all. Does the state have funds set aside for this protection of life?

This sounds positively progressive to me. FDR would be pleased.

Posted by: Hmmmmm on February 24, 2011 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

This law would mean that in the Terry Schaivo case her parents would be fully justified in murdering Schaivo's husband, the judge who said it was ok to remove the feeding tube, the doctors and nurses who removed the feeding tube, in order to save the life of a person who was in a permanent vegetative state.

So on the one hand doctors can let women die by refusing to save their lives through a theraputic abortion, but if they do attempt to save her life her family members are justified in killing them.
Also spontaneous abortions are now murder also and deserve the death penalty.

Do you see a pattern here? Why not cut to the chase and just pass a law like there was in the old days where men could kill the women and children that belonged to them with impunity for whatever reason they chose?

Posted by: thebewilderness on February 24, 2011 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

oh, picking on Iowa this year is like shooting fish in a barrel. this is just one of many, many insane bills introduced. in fairness, most of them will nto survive the legislative funnel and will die without getting anywhere close to law.

three others of note, just to give you an example:

a bill banning all abortions, period, Roe be damned.

a bill further expanding last year's insane "guaranteed right to a concealed weapon permit" law to take away the rights of cities and counties to bar carrying within their official buildings.

a bill prohibiting county recorders from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and divesting the Iowa Supreme Court of jurisdiction to hear cases involving that statute.

I'm hopeful my state regains its sanity in 2012.

Posted by: zeitgeist on February 24, 2011 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Of course the Christian right is freaking out about creeping sharia law ... they're deathly afraid of competition.

Posted by: Sasha on February 24, 2011 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

To Today's republican killing Americans to get dead white conservative christian arse into heaven is totally awesome. If they get to beat the chit out of women as well than that is a triple bonus.

No one hates America more than today's republicans.

Posted by: Silver Owl on February 24, 2011 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Bikelib: of course it should be the same. But that's not politically palatable, so the nuts don't talk about it. Just like the exception for rape or incest. If you truley believe that a fetus is a life from conception, why would you be ok with taking that life, just because of how it was conceived? I can't kill an adult child of rape or incest, shouldn't a fetus (sorry, preborn child) have the same rights?

But they know that people won't stand for that. Even most of their own supporters wouldn't want to have to raise a baby when their daughter was raped by a black man (true, and we all know it) advocate that consistent position, and you have no chance. The leaders of the Right who framed this issue back in the day were smarter than that. (today's, like this guy? Who knows)

Here's my question: can I use force to prevent a pregnant woman from smoking? Drinking? Eating raw cheese?

Posted by: Northzax on February 24, 2011 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

I like the comment about Sharia law. These states that are outlawing the use of Sharia law are basically shooting themselves in the foot because much of their agenda IS Sharia law. What they are doing is introducing Sharia law under another name, and if push comes to shove, unless the law clearly defines what is Sharia in such a way that Sharia type laws are not affected, then their patriarchal dominance laws will have to be repealed, or the anti Sharia law will need to be repealed. Then people can point out to them that Moslem fundamentalists can then sneak into the US and insert Sharia law under another name, like Sharron law. Kind of puts them in a predicament, doesn't it?

Posted by: Texas Aggie on February 24, 2011 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

I really enjoyed the site so I used my Digg account to digg it - should help you

Posted by: the vampire diaries season 2 on March 2, 2011 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK



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