South Dakota Might Make it Legal to Kill Abortion Providers

For two elections in a row, the South Dakota legislature has tried unsuccessfully to ban abortions. Even so, it came as a shock to learn that the state legislature is considering a bill that would legalize killing abortion providers. That’s right: legalize killing abortion providers. I’ll pause for a moment to let that sink in.

House Bill 1171, sponsored by Republican Phil Jensen, would expand the definition of justifiable homicide to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus. But not just your own fetus; no, HB 1171 would allow anyone to kill in the name of protecting “the unborn child of that person’s spouse, partner, parent, or child.” So in theory, if you’re a pregnant woman that wants an abortion but your husband disagrees, he could kill your abortion provider and have that be considered justifiable homicide.

Jensen claims that he merely wants to ensure that the state’s criminal code is operating with consistency in regards to how fetal death is punished. Currently, South Dakota – along with a number of other states – allows for people to be charged with murder or manslaughter for committing crimes that result in the death of a fetus. But there’s a massive difference between counting a pregnant woman’s murder as two crimes, and saying that it’s okay to commit murder in the name of a fetus. [Read more...]

Debating the Definition of Terrorism

debateOn this morning’s NPR, I listened to “experts” debate the definition of terrorism and then if the term should be applied to the Ft. Hood shootings. The outcome of the debate was that the “experts” believe that Major Nidal Hasan’s actions were both an act of terrorism, and the actions of a mentally ill person.

The debate over the definition of terrorism got me to thinking about the assassination of Dr. George Tiller and the pending trial of Scott Roeder, the man accused of killing Dr. Tiller. One of the things that defines terrorism, according to the NPR story, is that the act is intended to have a political consequence. Columbine and the Virgina Tech shootings wouldn’t fit into the category of terrorism, because the shooters were acting out of a personal vendetta and didn’t intend a political change to occur. Roeder, on the other hand, has publicly stated that he intended to kill Dr. Tiller because Tiller performed abortions.

Yesterday I reported that Roeder’s lawyers may try to claim a “justifiable homicide” or “necessity defense.” They will bring up facts about how many abortions Dr. Tiller performed, and argue that Roeder was acting to prevent more abortions from being performed. However, if the judge in Roeder’s case allows this type of defense to be presented, what’s to stop Major Hasan’s lawyers from trying a similar defense strategy? [Read more...]

Roeder May Not Be Able to Use “Necessity” Defense

scott roederAttorneys for Scott Roeder, the man accused of killing Dr. George Tiller, may not be able to use the defense that Roeder acted “out of necessity.” According to the Associated Press:

[Roeder] told The Associated Press on Nov. 9 that he shot Tiller to protect unborn children and he planned to present a necessity defense at his trial. He also said one of his two public defenders, Mark Rudy, had given him the “green light” to talk to the media about it.

But the following day, lead defense attorney Steve Osburn told reporters the necessity defense did not exist in Kansas law and the defense team did not plan to present that strategy.

“We have explored that possibility,” Osburn said at the time. “That does not seem to be the approach that is viable, nor is it the approach we intend to use.”

A hearing is set for December 22nd to officially decide if a “necessity defense” may be introduced when Roeder actually goes to trial on January 11th. [Read more...]

Monday News Roundup

footballThis weekend marked the official kick off of the NFL season. Hope you got your fill of football. And if you’re looking for a feminist fantasy football league to join, we’ve still got room for a few more players in our league. E-mail me for the details today so that we can set our draft.

Here’s your morning round up:

Minorities Disproportionately Affected by DADT –
Scott Roeder Does Not Meet the Definitions of “Justifiable Homicide” – Roeder Watch
Center for Reproductive Rights Debuts Youtube Video About Clinic Violence – Words of Choice
Responding to the Arguments Against ENDA – Bilerico

Should Scott Roeder Face the Death Penalty?

scott roederLast week I reported that Scott Roeder, the man accused of killing Dr. George Tiller, could possibly use a “justifiable homicide” defense when he goes to trial later this month. Roeder has been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault in state court. Under Kansas law, murder is not a capital case unless the murder is committed in the process of committing another crime, or if the victim is a law enforcement office. Roeder is not going to face the death penalty when he goes to trial, which has angered some pro-choice activists. However, the question of whether or not he should be eligible for capital punishment is worth considering anyway.

Paul Hill, an anti-abortion wing nut who murdered Dr. Bayard Britton, an abortion provider in Florida, was executed by lethal injection in 1994. His execution, and the precedent that it sets for Scott Roeder, brings up a very important question for pro-choice advocates. Should people who are convicted of killing abortion providers face the death penalty?

I am personally opposed to the death penalty. I don’t think the state should be in the business of killing people, whether its in the form of military violence, police brutality, or executions. From a purely ethical standpoint, how can you punish someone for killing another person by killing them? It’s a moral contradiction. From a monetary standpoint, it costs lest to incarcerate a person for life than it does to kill them. So if you want to break it down to pure dollars and cents, go for the lifetime sentence. [Read more...]

Roeder May Claim “Justifiable Homicide” Defense

Scott RoederLawyers for Scott Roeder, the man accused of murdering Dr. George Tiller, have said that they might use a “justifiable homicide” defense when Roeder goes to trial. According to the Wichita Eagle:

Roeder has court-appointed defense attorneys, but he apparently has now turned to Michael Hirsh, the lawyer who represented Paul Hill on appeal for killing a Florida abortion provider and his bodyguard in 1994. Hill was executed in 2003 after the Florida Supreme Court rejected Hirsh’s argument that the judge should have allowed Hill to present to jurors his claim that the killings were justified to prevent abortions.

Hirsh confirmed he has spoken once to Roeder in recent weeks about representing him, but he has not yet been retained. Hirsh said he had not researched the facts of the case or Kansas law enough to know whether the justifiable homicide defense could be used but said a jury should be allowed to decide if it is applicable.

Scott Roeder’s actions were hardly “justifiable.” The idea of a “justifiable homicide” is laughable. Either you’re pro-life, or you’re not. Somebody who murders a man in church is not a hero, he’s a terrorist. The Wichita Eagle article speculates that it is unlikely that Roeder will be able to use the “justifiable homicide” defense, because nobody has ever been able to do so. And for good reason. Murder is murder, period.

15 Year Anniversary of FL Abortion Clinic Shooting

219Y-011-011Today marks the 15 year anniversary of the assassination of Dr. John Bayard Britton, a Florida abortion provider, and Britton’s his body guard James Herman Barrett. Dr. Britton and Mr. Barrett were murdered by Paul Hill, an anti-choice fanatic. According to a 1994 story in the Washington Post:

Britton, who authorities said had received numerous death threats for his work at The Ladies Center abortion clinic, was wearing a bulletproof vest after having just been picked up at the airport by the Barretts, of Pensacola.

It was the third shooting at a U.S. abortion clinic since March 1993, when David Gunn was fatally shot in the back as he arrived for work as a physician at another Pensacola clinic.

Hill, 40, who described himself as a former Presbyterian minister, had publicly advocated “justifiable homicide” against doctors who perform abortions and had led demonstrations at the clinic every Friday for more than a year, police and abortion rights activists said.

[Read more...]