What Fresh Hell is This?Posted: February 24, 2011
Republicans have unleashed a war against public servants and women. They appear to believe their election gains are a mandate to radically change the way government deals with its citizen. The latest state to initiate yet another crazy attack on women’s health is the state of Nebraska. Nebraska has followed South Dakota’s lead by introducing a “justifiable homicide” abortion bill. This bill goes farther than the South Dakota law. (See the sentence in bold below from the quote from a Mother Jones blog post.)
The legislation, LB 232, was introduced by state Sen. Mark Christensen, a devout Christian and die-hard abortion foe who is opposed to the procedure 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. Also testifying in opposition to the bill was David Baker, the deputy chief executive officer of the Omaha police department, who said, “We share the same fears…that this could be used to incite violence against abortion providers.”
Baker’s concern is well-grounded: Abortion providers are frequent targets of violent attacks. Eight doctors have been murdered by anti-abortion extremists since 1993, and another 17 have been victims of murder attempts. Some of the perpetrators of those crimes, including Scott Roeder, the murderer of Wichita, Kansas, abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, have attempted to use the justifiable homicide defense at their trials. Several of the witnesses at Wednesday’s hearing cited Tiller’s murder as a case where a law like the one Christensen introduced could have come into play.
This one hits home for me. Nebraska–where I grew up–always turns out to be one of the states to test abortion restrictions. Their taxpayers pay millions of dollars to take outrageous bills to the Supreme Court just to see how much they can get away with. I can’t tell you how many of these initiatives I had to deal with while living there. It’s a horrible use of scare public revenues. I believe this was introduced to just test the waters since the South Dakota bill was withdrawn. These zealots are willing to waste taxpayer dollars just to see how far they can go.
The other thing that really bothers me is that my daughter is an ob/gyn in residency at the state’s med school. Considering many of these people think that birth control pills are abortifacients, does this mean you can justifiably shoot a prescribing doctor? This bill is just to let women protect their pregnancies if you listen anti-abortion fanatics. However, isn’t just being able to defend yourself as a pregnant woman enough?
For his part, Christensen insisted that his measure is not intended to target abortion providers. Like Jensen, Christensen claimed that his bill is merely meant to allow pregnant women to defend their unborn children without fear of prosecution. “LB 232,” he said, “is really nothing more than an attempt to make sure a pregnant woman is not unnecessarily charged with a crime for using force to protect her unborn child from someone who means to bring harm to her unborn children.”
But, as other lawmakers pointed out during the hearing, Christensen’s bill, as currently written, would not only apply to pregnant women but to anyone who attempted to prevent harm to a fetus. “I think it opens the door to something unintended,” said state Sen. Steve Lathrop. “I don’t think you came in here intending to make those who provide abortions a target of the use of force,” he told Christensen, “but I think it may unintentionally do that or at least provide somebody with an argument that they were justified in that.”
Nebraska isn’t the only state trying this tactic. The state of Iowa is also trying to get bills passed that allow deadly force to protect a fetus.
If passed into law, the two bills — House File 7 and House File 153 — would offer an unprecedented defense opportunity to individuals who stand accused of killing such providers, according to a former prosecutor and law professor at the University of Kansas, and are something that might have very well led to a different outcome in the Kansas trial of the man who shot Dr. George Tiller in a church foyer.
Melanie D. Wilson, associate professor of law at the University of Kansas, closely followed the trial of Scott Roeder, the man convicted of murdering Tiller. Roeder, at the urging of Iowa anti-abortion activist and former GOP legislative candidate Dave Leach, attempted to use the necessity defense, which says it is permissible to commit a crime if it stops a greater harm. The judge in the case refused to allow Roeder to use that defense.
“When [Roeder] presented the necessity defense, he failed because the legislature had basically already decided the abortion issue,” Wilson said. “So, as long as Tiller was performing legal abortion, [Roeder], as a defendant, didn’t get to re-decide the case [of abortion’s legal status]. Just as a matter of law, the judge wouldn’t allow that argument.”
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.
I really don’t see any difference between these people and the Taliban. Being forced to live in country where extremist fundamentalist views dictate laws is not what this country is about. These people obviously don’t think that women are capable of making mature, moral decisions and must be shepherded through a humiliating, obtuse process just to exercise a right to be secure as a unique person. Again, this is nothing less than an out and out war on every woman. We should not have to beg for our constitutional rights and our standing as adults.