South Dakota House Bill 1171, “An Act to provide that the use of force by a pregnant woman for the protection of her unborn child is an affirmative defense to prosecutions for certain crimes,” was primarily sponsored by Rep. Phil Jensen, a West Rapid City “small business owner.”
Representatives Bolin, Brunner, Greenfield, Haggar, Hansen (Jon), Hickey, Hoffman, Hubbel, Kopp, Magstadt, Miller, Nelson (Stace), Olson (Betty), Rausch, Russell, Sly, Steele, Stricherz, Van Gerpen, Venner, Verchio, and Willadsen and Senators Kraus, Fryslie, Lederman, and Maher (there is a common thread in these folks’ politics) were all secondary sponsors.
This is the original text of the proposed new law:
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:
Section 1. It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution for homicide as defined in § 22-16-1 or assault as defined in § 22-18-1 or 22-18-1.1 that the defendant is a pregnant woman who used force or deadly force against another to protect her unborn child if:
(1) Under the circumstances as the pregnant woman reasonably believes them to be, she would be justified under § 22-16-35 in using force or deadly force to protect herself against the unlawful force or unlawful deadly force she reasonably believes to be threatening her unborn child; and
(2) She reasonably believes that her intervention and use of force or deadly force are immediately necessary to protect her unborn child.
Section 2. The affirmative defense provided in section 1 of this Act does not apply to:
(1) Acts committed by anyone other than the pregnant woman;
(2) Acts where the pregnant woman would be obligated to retreat, to surrender the possession of a thing, or to comply with a demand before using force in self-defense. However, the pregnant woman is not obligated to retreat before using force or deadly force to protect her unborn child, unless she knows that she can thereby secure the complete safety of her unborn child; or
(3) The defense of human embryos existing outside of a woman's body.
Everything in that proposal is gobbledygook. The language is low-rate street talk (if your street experience is with the salvation-through-force crowd) and the apparent goal of the law is already covered by other laws.
This law was heard in the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 9. The first item was Phil Jensen proposing an amendment that gutted the bill and changed its potential effect entirely.
The title was changed to: “An Act to expand the definition of justifiable homicide to provide for the protection of certain unborn children.”
The text was changed to: “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. "
That substitution of entirely new language in a committee hearing is called a “hoghouse,” and it happened through circumstances not visible to the naked eye. Since the original bill had nothing new in it, it was likely a “placeholder,” designed to meet a filing deadline, but with intent to hoghouse it.
Anyway, on Feb. 9, the House Judiciary Committee ratified the content change, then the title change, then voted to send the bill to the House floor for “debate” and a decision as to whether the bill would advance to the Senate or not. Since the majority of the House Judiciary Committee (also known as the “Better Families Through Politics” group) had sponsored the bill, that was not surprising.
The House floor discussion was scheduled for Feb. 14, then the 15th, then the 16th, and was held on the 17th, where HB1171 was killed.
During the floor “debate,” Rep. Jensen said he had been satisfied that his proposed open season on women’s doctors was not necessary.
What actually happened was that Jensen and the other sponsors got a deluge of email traffic and phone calls asking them what kind of morons they were. I find it interesting that Roger Hunt, while on the committee, was not a sponsor. Amazingly, there are lines he won’t cross, I guess. Jensen and those other folks will apparently attempt to cross just about any line, even legalizing the murder of folks whose politics they don't like.