Sunday, February 26, 2006

Murder for hire in South Dakota

South Dakota just passed a law banning all abortions, except if the mother will die unless she gets one. Now, the purpose of the law isn't actually to ban all abortions. The purpose of the law is to be challenged in court. It seems to be a given that, when the law is challenged in court it will lose. Then it can be taken to the Supreme Court, and right-wingers will be able to see if Judge Alito will be worth all the effort they went to to put him on the bench. So, the purpose of this law isn't to ban abortions in South Dakota, it's to over turn Roe v. Wade.

The bill contains no rape or incest provisions. That is, at least, logically consistent. If a blastocyst is an "innocent" human being, it can't be held responsible for how it was conceived.

However, I think that it's interesting that the bill only punishes abortion doctors. It makes providing an abortion a Class 5 felony, the second lowest class of felony, punishable of up to five years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. It does not, however, criminalize getting an abortion. And that's not logically consistent. Any woman that paid someone to beat her two-year-old to death would be tried for murder, and rightly so. Why, then, does a mother that pays a doctor to kill her "unborn baby" get off scot-free? Undoubtedly, it's because the South Dakota legislature was queasy at the idea of a raped 12-year-old getting tried for murder.

I don't think this was really the intended purpose, but this bill also outlaws in vitro fertilization, where some fertilized embryos are usually discarded. In fact, it looks to me that abortion is a (fairly) minor felony, but IVF is first degree murder. South Dakota law defines first degree murder as:

Homicide is murder in the first degree if perpetrated ... with a premeditated design to effect the death of the person killed or of any other human being, including an unborn child

The new anti-abortion law defines an "unborn child" as "an individual living member of the species, homo sapiens, throughout the entire embryonic and fetal ages of the unborn child from fertilization to full gestation and childbirth."

This law makes no distinction between an "unborn child" and an unborn child inside a pregnant woman. So it seems to me that a fertilized zygote in a petrie dish can be murdered. Oddly enough, that would be first degree murder, but an abortion is only a Class 5 felony.

If I were a fertility doctor in South Dakota, I would be very concerned right about now.

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