South Dakota Law Could Legalize the Murder of Abortion Providers


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


NAF Communications Department

Statement of Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF) in response to South Dakota HB 1171:

There’s no shortage of abortion restrictions being introduced in the states, but the latest out of South Dakota is the most disturbing yet: legislators are considering a bill that could make it legal to murder abortion providers.

Some states consider homicide justifiable when it is an act of self-defense or in defense of another person. But South Dakota would expand the definition of “justifiable homicide” to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus. As worded, this bill is an invitation to murder abortion providers.

Since the 1990s, anti-abortion extremists have tried to advance the idea that the murder of abortion providers is “justifiable.” The first provider was murdered in 1993. Since then, there have been seven subsequent murders and 17 attempted murders of clinic staff and physicians. Three of the murderers, Paul Hill, James Kopp, and Scott Roeder each attempted to use a justifiable homicide defense in court. However, their attempts were all found to not meet the legal standards of justifiable homicide laws and were not permitted during their trials.

Given the history of violence against abortion providers, it’s inconceivable that any state would consider this type of legislation. We cannot allow South Dakota or any other state to legalize the murder of abortion providers.


The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is the professional association of abortion providers in North America. Our mission is to ensure safe, legal, and accessible abortion care to promote health and justice for women. Our members include health care professionals at clinics, doctors’ offices, and hospitals, who together care for more than half the women in North America who choose abortion each year. For more information, visit our website at

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