Not Your Average Prom Queen: South Dakota Attempts to Legalize Murder of Abortion Providers
It has been almost a month since the 38th anniversary of Roe V. Wade, the Supreme Court decision which made abortion legal in the United States. That would make it almost a year since the 37th anniversary when I wrote “Your Friendly Neighborhood Clinic Escort” for TNG. I’m writing again about abortion although, to some people, the topic might seem a little out of place on TNG. We are as GLBTQ individuals not the first group that comes to mind on this issue. Does it relate to us? Absolutely.
It is not unusual for GLBTQ individuals to engage in heterosexual intercourse, whatever the circumstance. Thus it is not unusual for these individuals to be aware of the possibility of pregnancy and the decisions that occur within that possibility. In addition, for GLBTQ individuals who do not participate in heterosexual intercourse, does that mean that we don’t have friends, sisters, mothers, daughters and colleagues who deserve our support of their freedoms as they have supported ours? This is not a fight that heterosexual women should fight alone, especially when the opposition is often men in government whose bodies and freedoms are not at stake when they are writing legislation.
For me, this is an issue of personal freedom, of what one individual chooses to do with their own body or sometimes what a couple chooses to do together. It is this reason that the fight for choice also parallels the fight for gay rights. These are not issues that should be regulated by the government. These are issues that have to do with what we choose to do with our own bodies and our own lives.
Both of the issues of gay rights and personal choice are fought every day in cities and towns all over the country. This week, the pro-choice movement has been challenged again in South Dakota. The government there has proposed that the murder of an individual who is attempting to harm or kill a fetus is a justifiable homicide. Under this law, abortion essentially becomes illegal, because an abortion provider, or a friend, spouse or parent who is assisting a woman in obtaining an abortion technically becomes “an individual attempting to harm or kill a fetus” and thus can be murdered “justifiably.”
Here is the complete text of the amended bill:
“FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to expand the definition of justifiable homicide to provide for the protection of certain unborn children.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:
Section 1. That § 22-16-34 be amended to read as follows:
22-16-34. Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person while resisting any attempt to murder such person, or to harm the unborn child of such person in a manner and to a degree likely to result in the death of the unborn child, or to commit any felony upon him or her, or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person is.
Section 2. That § 22-16-35 be amended to read as follows:
22-16-35. Homicide is justifiable 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, if there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design to commit a felony, or to do some great personal injury, and imminent danger of such design being accomplished.”
This particular bit of legislation is frightening, and devastating, but, sadly, not that unusual. It is a tricky backhanded way of tweaking legislation that appears to be focused on defense, but actually used to restrict or criminalize the act of abortion. Technically, this new amendment also reads that the pregnant woman herself could be “justifiably” murdered if the murderer did so because the woman was attempting to procure an abortion.
This is simply a topic we should all be aware of in a way that we hope our friends and families care about our rights as GLBTQ individuals. A few small words like this are slipped in all over the place in legislation, taking away our freedoms from right under our noses.
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