‘Justifiable homicide’ bill pulled in S.D.

‘JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDE’ BILL PULLED IN S.D…. We learned Tuesday morning that Republicans in South Dakota were pushing a disturbing piece of anti-abortion legislation. Interpretations varied, but a “justifiable homicide” bill seemed to open the door to making it legal to kill medical professionals who perform abortions.

It didn’t take long for news to make the rounds. Late yesterday, the day after the news broke, the bill was shelved indefinitely.

A state bill to expand the definition of justifiable homicide in South Dakota to include killing someone in the defense of an unborn child was postponed indefinitely Wednesday after an uproar over whether the legislation would put abortion providers at greater risk.

The House speaker, Val Rausch, said that the legislation had been shelved, pending a decision on whether to allow a vote, amend the language or drop it entirely. A spokesman for Gov. Dennis Daugaard said, “Clearly the bill as it’s currently written is a very bad idea.”


Kate Sheppard deserves a lot of credit — she wrote the original report, and had it not been for her article, the legislation in South Dakota may have very well advanced.

It’s also worth noting that even for right-wing lawmakers working on reproductive rights, it’s heartening to know shame is still possible. The reversal in South Dakota comes two weeks after congressional Republicans, unable to think of a defense, dropped a provision to redefine rape in the odious “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.