Despite South Dakota indefinitely tabling their “justifiable homicide” bill that some thought would open the door on murder attempts on abortion providers, Nebraska has now passed the very same bill through their judiciary committee.
Via the Journal Star:
A bill that would clarify that a mother or another person could use force — even deadly force — to protect an unborn child got a hearing Wednesday in front of the Judiciary Committee.
Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial, who introduced the bill (LB232), said it was prompted by a Michigan case in which a pregnant woman carrying quadruplets was found guilty of manslaughter for killing her boyfriend after he punched her in the stomach, causing a miscarriage. She was sentenced to five to 20 years as an habitual offender.
A Michigan Appeals Court later overturned the case.
Christensen said he did not want to see a woman in Nebraska go through the trauma of losing a baby, only to be prosecuted and punished for trying to protect it.
Some committee members and testifiers said they were concerned the bill could be used to justify harming or killing an abortion provider.
There were also questions about whether the bill accomplished anything that wasn’t already provided for in current state self-defense laws.
Melissa Grant with Planned Parenthood of the Heartland said the bill could put the organization’s parents, medical personnel, volunteers and staff at risk of potential violence and harm.
“However well intentioned, I also believe this bill would likely have very grave unintended negative consequences,” Grant said.
It could give license to restrain a woman going to a provider for an abortion, she said. It could authorize and protect vigilantes.
Alan Peterson, representing ACLU of Nebraska, said if the drafters of the bill wanted it limited to the pregnant woman defending her unborn baby, they should have written it that way.
“Let’s not pull out the ace of spades, the right to kill, as an answer to these tough problems,” Peterson said. “The choice of violence which we’re talking about here ought to be the very last.”
The groundswell of anger over a bill that states that you can use “protecting the fetus” as a defense in a murder trial doesn’t appear to be dissuading the state from continuing the process of passing the bill.
Even worse, this appears to be another “seed” legislation bill, like the “fetal pain” bill and other anti-abortion legislation, meaning it was written to be farmed out and introduced in multiple states across the country in the hopes that at least one state will pass it. The Journal notes that Oklahoma and Missouri have copy cat bills as well.
Unlike the other states’ versions, the Nebraska bill does not state that the person who commits homicide has to have a vested relationship in the fetus. South Dakota’s proposed statute referred to a man or woman who was related to the woman carrying the fetus. The Nebraska bill simply states:
Subject to the provisions of this section and of section 28-1414, the use of force upon or toward the person of another is justifiable to protect a third person when:
(a) The actor would be justified under section 28-1409 in using such force to protect himself or herself against the injury he or she believes to be threatened to the person whom he or she seeks to protect;
(b) Under the circumstances as the actor believes them to be, the person whom he or she seeks to protect would be justified in using such protective force; and
(c) The actor believes that his or her intervention is necessary for the protection of such other person.
with the “third person” being defined by the bill as a unborn child at any stage of development in utero.
So, now any person can commit “justifiable homicide” to protect a fetus, even if he or she doesn’t know the woman in question. Truly terrifying.
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