Americans United For Life – The “Kill The Abortion Provider” People?

A recent rash of “justifiable homicide” expansion bills in various state legislatures have revealed the operations of a pro-life group intent on seeding anti-abortion legislation across the country.  But is the group itself the one advocating for laws that some say could put abortion providers in physical danger, or are sponsoring legislators simply taking those model laws one step further?

First South Dakota, then Iowa and Nebraska have each introduced a bill that allows people to commit “justifiable homicide” in defense of an endangered fetus.  Every lawmaker proposing the bill claimed he had no intention of having it apply to a woman seeking out an abortion — yet each bill purposely avoids narrowing the circumstances so that would not be included.

But is opening the door for murdering abortion providers really the intent of the original seed legislation?

Via Mother Jones:

First, it was South Dakota. Then Nebraska and Iowa. The similarly worded bills, which have quietly cropped up recently in state legislatures, share a common purpose: To expand justifiable homicide statutes to cover killings committed in the defense of an unborn child. Critics of the bills, including law enforcement officials, warn that these measures could invite violence against abortion providers and possibly provide legal cover to the perpetrators of such crimes.

That these measures have emerged simultaneously in a handful of states is no coincidence. It’s part of a campaign orchestrated by a Washington-based anti-abortion group, which has lobbied state lawmakers to introduce legislation that it calls the “Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act” [PDF]. Over the past two years, the group, Americans United for Life, has succeeded in passing versions of this bill in Missouri and Oklahoma. But there’s a big difference between those bills and the measures floated recently in South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa.

While the Oklahoma and Missouri laws specifically cover pregnant women, the latest measures are far more sweeping and would apply to third parties. The bills are so loosely worded, abortion-rights advocates say, that a pregnant woman could seek out an abortion and a boyfriend, husband—or, in some cases, just about anyone—could be justified in using deadly force to stop it.

AUL is an anti-abortion action group founded by Charmaine Yoest, a former member of Family Research Council.  The legal advocacy side of the the pro-life movement, they are best known for writing and farming “model” legislation such as the Nebraska “fetal pain” ban, which, after being successfully passed without a court challenge, has now popped up in multiple states across the country this legislative session.

The group claims that their model legislation for what they are calling the “Pregnant Woman Protection Act” is being misconstrued by the liberal media.

Americans United for Life Vice President of Legal Affairs Denise Burke noted that the anti-life media once again got their facts wrong in reporting on AUL’s “Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act.”  AUL’s groundbreaking model legislation seeks to ensure that a pregnant woman and her unborn child are protected from criminal violence and that her decision to carry her child to term is respected.  Specifically, the model legislation was drafted in direct response to the well-documented and growing problem of pregnancy-related violence against women.

“Leave it to the anti-life lobby to claim that model legislation that shows respect for the choice a woman makes to keep her baby is flawed,” said Burke. “Research shows that pregnant women are more likely to be victims of domestic abuse. It is tragic that the pro-abortion lobby maligns efforts to protect these women.”

According to AUL, their model legislation does not extend the “protection” to a third party, and is meant only to apply the justifiable homicide defense to the pregnant woman herself.

And even Mother Jones writes in their breaking story that the original legislation was written to apply only to the pregnant women, and that it was amended to include potential third parties.

The original version of the bill did not include the language regarding the “unborn child”; it was pitched as a simple clarification of South Dakota’s justifiable homicide law. Last week, however, the bill was “hoghoused”—a term used in South Dakota for heavily amending legislation in committee—in a little-noticed hearing. A parade of right-wing groups—the Family Heritage Alliance, Concerned Women for America, the South Dakota branch of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, and a political action committee called Family Matters in South Dakota—all testified in favor of the amended version of the law.

“They always intended this to be a fetal personhood bill, they just tried to cloak it as a self-defense bill,” says Kristin Aschenbrenner, a lobbyist for South Dakota Advocacy Network for Women. “They’re still trying to cloak it, but they amended it right away, making their intent clear.”

AUL’s intention in passing model legislation that would open a gate for laws to be rewritten to refer to a fetus as “a person at every age of gestation from moment of conception,” was already a drastic reach intended to help pave the road to outlaw abortion all together.  But it appears to be the legislators in question in each state who have taken it upon themselves to go beyond the AUL blueprint and add in the justifiable homicide protection beyond just the pregnant woman to her partners, or family members in the South Dakota version, to anyone at all in the Iowa and Nebraska version.

The fact that who is covered under “justifiable homicide” in each state even reiterates AUL’s argument that they are not the ones pushing for a legal redefinition that could potentially endanger abortion providers.

In fact, the introduction to the model legislation makes it clear that it is referring specifically to the situation involving a pregnant woman.

With that in mind, it is easy to see that the application of the affirmative defense of “defense of others” to cases where a mother uses force to protect the life of her unborn child is a natural extension of accepted criminal jurisprudence including existing unborn victims of violence protections (i.e., fetal homicide laws and fetal assault laws) that recognize the unborn as a potential victim of criminal violence.

Is AUL trying to sneak through a legal definition of personhood from the moment of conception in its seeding of model legislation across the country?  Of course.  But it is the legislators taking up their call to arms that are adding in the expansive “justifiable homicide” in order to score additional points with their anti-choice base and fundraisers.

Related Stories: 

Nebraska “Justifiable Homicide” Bill Allows ANYONE to Murder an Abortion Provider

Abortion Restriction Roadblocked By Those Who Oppose Abortion

South Dakota No Longer Pushing For Bill That Could Endanger Abortion Providers


Photo credit: wikimedia commons


Norma V.
Norma Villarreal8 years ago

It's about freedom and the right to choose.

kenny s.
Kenny Stidham8 years ago

I hate the word SIN. The only time you ever hear it is when it is coming out the mouth of a religious hater. The worst thing a person can do to another is judge and persecute like the christians do. The world would be a better place if certain people had been aborted before birth. Sarah Palins mom , George Bushes mom, Mike Huckabees mom, Bill O'Reillys mom, Shaun Hannitys mom, Mel Gibsons mom......get my point......all SHOULD have had abortions.

Curtis B.
Curtis B.8 years ago

I myself don't agree with abortions but I believe that all Americans have undeniable rights that should be protected regardless of sexual orientation. We have these radicals that are bent on taking our rights away from us. The question is should America live or should it be delegated to the annuals of dust. The choice is yours because I am tired of trying to explain the truth to idiots. The Guardian

Kittie K.
Kittie K.8 years ago

We should have the right to choose abortion, not be chided and intimidated into keeping and carrying an otherwise unwanted child to term. I for one will exercise my right to choose, and my choice will be to not have a baby as of right now in my life, and I will not be scared into a choice i did not want :)

Becky Y.
Rebecca Y8 years ago

I wrote this in 1990 and it still is relevant.
Clearly man has surpassed God’s expectations: we are now capable of global peace; we are able to negotiate differences; warring is obsolete; we have learned to harness nuclear power and administer it without mishaps or excesses.
Our superior knowledge prevents oil spills, airplane crashes and automobile inferiority, it provides food for the hungry, homes for the homeless and clothes for the needy.
Because mankind has survived his environment so well, we have learned to teach our children not to take drugs or drop out of school. We have passed on our enormous capacity for humanitarianism to adolescents in the throes of puberty and only mature, adult, married heterosexual partners have sex.
We have also intellectualized that no outside source other than parental input can affect the knowledge our children accumulate. AND we have abolished the NEED for abortion because of the good-hearted anti-abortionists who have volunteered their own personal wombs to host the unwanted fetuses, the deformed fetuses, the fetuses infected with the Aids virus, the fetuses that are brain damaged as well as the healthy fetuses and each anti-abortionist has promised to bring these children up as their very own. My what a wonderful world!
Surely man has finally achieved the height of his superiority over all the other animals of the world. Welcome 1990, we are ready for you. We know exactly where we are and what we are doing. SURE WE DO!

Dan B.
Dan Brook8 years ago

The regressive Republican Party of No is mean-spirited, thuggish, religiously fanatical, scientifically ignorant, corrupt, hypocritical, xenophobic, racist, sexist, homophobic, evolution and global warming denying, authoritarian, selfish, greedy, lacking compassion, warmongering, and otherwise dangerous.

NEVER vote for Republicans.

Claude H.
Claude Hines8 years ago

Though the idea of registering the male penis as a 'weapon of mass construction' is an amusing one, the serious issue of abortion calls for clear thinking. My faith and I beleive that abortion is sin, yet I support the women's right to choose. Not because I agree with abortion but because I do not want to see women forced to back-alley hacks as they were when I was a teenager. Let us take care not to make a bad situation of abortion worst by passing laws that condone even more taking of human life. A woman already has a justifiable homicide law on her side. It's simply the nation's laws that support self defense if one's life is truly in peril. Nothing more is needed. It doesn't matter if one is pregnant or not - we can protect ourselves from someone advancing upon us with clearly murderous intent. Amen.

Rachel H.
Rachel H8 years ago

*in the future

Rachel H.
Rachel H8 years ago

Ruth K:
I did not mean for my comment to come across as aggressive to those who have honestly contributed to the conversation, while remaining reasonable. I am a big believer in passion without hatred. I had just run across article after article with comment sections full of ugly remarks and I decided to comment on the negativity. So, forgive me also if my comments came across as too sweeping.

Heather O:
Thank you for reading my whole comment. I pondered using pro-choice, but lately I have seen even more arguing simply on the very DEFINITION of pro-choice. I have heard some who identify themselves with the pro-choice movement, say that they are also pro-life (as in, they are for the woman making her choice, since it is HER life). Usually they refer to themselves and their movement as pro-choice, and the opposite side as anti-choice and anti-woman.

The anti-choice/pro-life community, on the other hand, tends to call itself pro-life, or anti-abortion, and refer to those who are pro-choice as anti-life.

Again, as you said, the combination of words is all important - A minefield, if you will. I navigated in one particular direction in the hopes of avoiding the topic of abortion (since that was not my point). I attempted at neutral terms, but until we come up with a MORE neutral set of words (rather than pro-choice/life/abortion or anti-choice/life/woman/abortion), well. Can't win them all.

However, thank you for your comment. I'll take more care with my words in t

Mary L.
Mary L8 years ago

The noose draws tighter and tighter around around women's necks. What will all the women do who praised this fanatically when every woman is a slave to men, when the Christian Sharia puts women in the home until married and then put into the new owner/ alleged husband in charge of her life.

When women can't go out without being accompanied by men and are so terrorized that they buy the idea that being raped is their fault would seem normal.

The difference between right wing Islam and right wing Christianity is a few letters.