Not exactly. South Dakota does have some of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws–including, in violation of the Hyde Amendment, a ban on using state Medicaid funding to cover abortions when the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. But a proposal to expand the definition of “justifiable homicide” to include resisting attempts to harm an unborn child would not actually make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions. Not yet, anyway.
Greg Sargent and Dave Weigel looked into the story this morning, and determined that because the relevant South Dakota code deals with homicide to prevent harm from an illegal act, abortion wouldn’t be covered. Abortion is still legal, after all, even in South Dakota.
Of course, that’s an awfully thin semantic line preventing a pro-life extremist from legally going after one of South Dakota’s two abortion providers. Especially given the increasing array of restrictions that surround abortion in the state. South Dakota has a parental notification law. Does that mean if a doctor performs an abortion on a teenager who has not obtained her parent’s consent, that abortion is illegal and the doc is fair game? It’s unclear. And that’s a problem–even if the bill isn’t quite as inflammatory as it first appeared.