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Wednesday
Feb162011

South Dakota: Postponing Discussion on a 'Justifiable Homicide' Bill

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PIERRE, S.D.) -- Debate on a controversial bill before the South Dakota state legislature has been postponed until next week after receiving a swarm of media attention Tuesday.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Phil Jensen, is considering altering the bill's language.

At issue in HB-1171 is an expansion of the state's definition of "justifiable homicide" to possibly include killing in the defense of an unborn child. Taken aback by the massive amounts of media attention the story garnered Tuesday, Jensen is mulling a change in the bill's wording.

As it currently reads, the bill would stipulate: "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 ..."

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley told Jensen he might want to consider adding the words "that is unlawful and" after the words "to a degree."

Jensen also told ABC News he has learned that "South Dakota code already defines 'unborn child' as a person," which could potentially render the entire bill moot. "I didn't realize that," he said.

Jensen said he is taking the week to decide whether he wants to add the new language to the bill, drop the bill entirely or leave it the way it is.

"I had no idea this would cause such a furor," he said Wednesday, admitting that he was a bit weary from fielding media inquiries since dawn. "The bill has nothing to do with abortion in reality."

A provocative story on the Mother Jones website with a headline that shouted: "South Dakota Moves To Legalize Killing Abortion Providers" caused a major stir online Tuesday. The story drew the conclusion that "If the bill passes, it could in theory allow a woman's father, mother, son, daughter or husband to kill anyone who tried to provide that woman an abortion -- even if she wanted one."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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