During his 2004 campaign, Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn declared, "I favor the death penalty for abortionists." Four years later, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin famously refused to condemn an abortion clinic bomber as a "terrorist." Last week, a GOP mayoral candidate in Jacksonville joked that bombing an abortion clinic "may cross my mind." Now, deadly serious Republican lawmakers in Nebraska and Iowa are pushing legislation that would in essence legalize the murder of abortion providers.
Less than two years after the assassination of Dr. George Tiller and less than two weeks after South Dakota Republicans shelved a similar bill, Nebraska state Senator Mark Christensen has introduced an even more onerous version in LB 232. As Mother Jones explained:
Unlike its South Dakota counterpart, which would have allowed only a pregnant woman, her husband, her parents, or her children to commit "justifiable homicide" in defense of her fetus, the Nebraska bill would apply to any third party.
"In short, this bill authorizes and protects vigilantes, and that's something that's unprecedented in our society," Melissa Grant of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland told the Nebraska legislature's judiciary committee on Wednesday. Specifically, she warned, it could be used to target Planned Parenthood's patients and personnel. Also testifying in opposition to the bill was David Baker, the deputy chief executive officer of the Omaha police department, who said, "We share the same fears...that this could be used to incite violence against abortion providers."
Meanwhile in Iowa, two new measures backed by House Republicans could together enable "the justifiable use of force against abortion or family planning providers." In violation of the Supreme Court's Roe v Wade ruling, House File 153 would ban abortion by mandating the state must protect "life" from the moment of conception. House File 7 would provide civil and criminal immunity for citizens using "reasonable force, including deadly force, to protect themselves or a third party from serious injury or death or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony." Together, the Iowa Independent explained, the two bills could enable the very kind of necessity defense for anti-abortion terrorists a Kansas judge rejected for Tiller murderer Scott Roeder:
If passed into law, the two bills -- House File 7 and House File 153 -- would offer an unprecedented defense opportunity to individuals who stand accused of killing such providers, according to a former prosecutor and law professor at the University of Kansas, and are something that might have very well led to a different outcome in the Kansas trial of the man who shot Dr. George Tiller in a church foyer.
If terrorism is defined as "as the deliberate murder of civilians or destruction of property in order to achieve a political objective," the wave of attacks on American abortion providers certainly qualifies. After the 2003 capture of Atlanta Olympic Park and Birmingham family planning clinic bomber Eric Rudolph, then Attorney General John Ashcroft agreed, announcing "this sends a clear message that we will never cease in our efforts to hunt down all terrorists, foreign or domestic, and stop them from harming the innocent."
Shelley Shannon, one of the nation's most notorious anti-abortion extremists, agreed with Ashcroft.