Our rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness
can only be secured by a state strictly separated from religion

17 February 2011

South Dakota to Legalize Murder of Abortion Doctors?

By Diana Hsieh

This news from South Dakota is just mind-boggling:

South Dakota's legislature is considering a bill that would legalize killing someone to prevent the harm of a fetus--a measure which could be used to defend people who kill abortion doctors. The legislation changes the legal definition of "justifiable homicide" to include killing a person "while resisting an attempt to harm" the killer's fetus, or the fetus of the killer's parent, child, spouse, or partner. That's even in cases when the pregnant person wants an abortion, Mother Jones' Kate Sheppard reports.

South Dakota legislators have tried repeatedly to outlaw abortion, but those bans were rejected by voters. So they've passed several laws to chip away at abortion rights, Sheppard reports. Women seeking an abortion have to listen to a lecture that they're terminating "the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being," then wait 24 hours to get the medical procedure. And for 16 years, the state has had no abortion providers--Planned Parenthood flies in a doctor once a week to Sioux Falls.

This is not some wacky bill sponsored by a rogue legislator with no chance of passing it: the measure made it out of committee on a party-line vote. Republicans have huge majorities in both chambers: 70 to 19 in the House and 35 to 5 in the Senate. And many Democrats oppose abortion. The National Abortion Federation's president Vicki Saporta says the bill is not abstract, but "an invitation to murder abortion providers."
Go read the whole article.

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15 February 2011

'Unlawful Termination of a Pregnancy'

By Ari

An odd Associated Press story published by today's Denver Post discusses a new bill to make the "unlawful termination of a pregnancy" a felony. What is odd about it is that Colorado statutes already make that a felony. Given the AP reporter didn't review the differences between existing statutes and the new bill, I'll go ahead and do it.

Linked through the Colorado legislature page are the Colorado Revised Statutes. Following are the relevant statutes already on the books:

18-3.5-101. Unlawful termination of pregnancy.

(1) A person commits the offense of unlawful termination of a pregnancy if, with intent to terminate unlawfully the pregnancy of another person, the person unlawfully terminates the other person's pregnancy.

(2) Unlawful termination of a pregnancy is a class 4 felony.

18-3.5-102. Exclusions.

Nothing in this article shall permit the prosecution of a person for providing medical treatment, including but not limited to an abortion, in utero treatment, or treatment resulting in live birth, to a pregnant woman for which the consent of the pregnant woman, or a person authorized by law to act on her behalf, has been obtained or for which consent is implied by law.


Last year a Mesa County court sentenced a man to five years in prison for this crime, the Daily Sentinel reported.

So how is the new bill, 1256, introduced February 11, different? Mainly, it is much more complicated. It defines "unlawful termination of a pregnancy" from the first through fourth degrees. It also defines "vehicular unlawful termination of a pregnancy, and aggravated vehicular unlawful termination of a pregnancy."

While the bill improperly refers to "unborn children," thereby obscuring the very large difference between a born child and a fetus, it "does not confer the status of 'person' upon a human embryo, fetus, or unborn child at any stage of development prior to live birth."

It does make sense to increase the criminal penalties for deliberation and intent, as well as to criminalize reckless acts that cause the death of a fetus.

However, the sections pertaining to vehicles -- which constitute the bulk of the bill -- seem redundant; it shouldn't matter in law whether somebody kills a woman's fetus by recklessly driving a vehicle or through some other means. Notably, the sections pertaining to vehicles also include a lot of detail about driving under the influence of various substances, also unnecessary for this law. Obviously if someone is driving drunk, that is an instance of the broader category of reckless behavior.

In sum, this is a good bill overall that needs some amending. Specifically, the ambiguous, non-objective language about an "unborn child" should be removed, as should all the material specific to vehicles and operating vehicles under the influence of drugs. The legislature should strive to keep bills as short and simple as possible. However, because existing statutes on the matter are imprecise and don't allow for varying degrees of offense, the new bill (unlike most of the bills floating through the legislature) serves a legitimate purpose of protecting the rights of pregnant women.

This article originally was published on Ari Armstrong's blog.

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01 February 2011

Unprecedented Attack on Separation of Church and State

By Rob

Social conservatives riding on the coattails of the Tea Party movement must be thinking we're too distracted with Obamacare to notice while they perpetrate their mischief. How else to explain a bill in the Oklahoma Senate to rescind the state's constitutional guarantee of religious freedom?

Article 2 Section 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution states:

No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.
Apparently those pushing the Governor's Office of Faith-based Initiatives and things like faith programs in prisons and tax dollars for religious schools are annoyed enough and emboldened enough by the Republican takeover of Oklahoma's government to try to remove that passage. Senate Joint Resolution 23 calls for a state question to remove Article 2 Section 5 to be put on the ballot for a vote. Be on the lookout for this to happen in your state!

(Here is a perfect illustration of the hypocrisy of social conservatives who try to pass themselves off as Tea Partiers: they don't want limits on the government's ability to intrude on religious matters. This will only lead to bigger government, not smaller government.)

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