Nothing like a suggestion of a murder charge to turn the heat up on the abortion issue
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Doctors who perform illegal abortions under the terms of HB1215 could face a first-degree murder charge under revised homicide provisions in South Dakota law, a lawyer for the South Dakota State Medical Association says.Pierre lawyer Dave Gerdes said in a legal memo written for the association that if HB1215 survives challenges at the ballot and, possibly, in court, it could combine with a revised state homicide statute to pose an ominous legal threat to doctors charged with violating the law.
"It is at least possible that a prosecutor or a court will decide that a physician performing a procedure qualifying as an abortion under the language of the new statute can be prosecuted for first-degree murder," Gerdes wrote in the memo.
In response, the prime sponsor of HB1215 said Thursday that violating the law would be a Class 5 felony, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison. But Republican Rep. Roger Hunt, a lawyer from Brandon, wouldn't rule out the possibility that a doctor could face a murder charge and even the death penalty in certain situations.
"I've never been a state's attorney, but I do know that when you take the life of a human being in our society, every state's attorney is going to look at all potential charges - murder all the way down to manslaughter and aggravated assault," Hunt said.