Murder of Abortion Docs as Justifiable Homicide
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Feb 18, 2011 at 12:19:16 AM EST
Now that the brouhaha over a proposed bill in the South Dakota legislature that would have redefined the murder of abortion providers as "justifiable homicide" is largely over, and the bill has been tabled, it is worth considering the origins of the idea.
The justifiable homicide concept burst into national consciousness in 1993.  It was contained in two "Defensive Action Statements" which were signed at various times by 33 people. The text of the first as authored by Paul Hill in 1993 read:
We, the undersigned, declare the justice of taking all godly action necessary to defend innocent human life including the use of force.  We proclaim that whatever force is legitimate to defend the life of a born child is legitimate to defend  the life of an unborn child. We assert that if Michael Griffin did in fact kill David Gunn, his use of lethal force was justifiable provided it was carried out for the purpose of defending the lives of unborn children. Therefore, he ought to be acquitted of the charges against him.
 

The second, using similar language, was issued on behalf of Paul Hill who had murdered Dr. John Britton and his unarmed escort. Hill, a well-known Gulf Coast antiabortion activist, had also issued a 13 page manifesto about the need for "defensive war" and called for the formation of Christian militias to lead a revolution against the federal government. The Army of God in turn, is populated with people who adhere to similar ideas, many of whom see themselves as engaged in a long-term theocratic revolutionary struggle.

The idea was also introduced via a crude cartoon drawn and published by far right Catholic priest, David Trosch. The cartoon showed a man holding a gun on an doctor performing an abortion and was titled: "justifiable homicide?" UPDATE: Here is the cartoon.

Meanwhile, Operation Rescue activist Michael Hirsch a law student at Pat Robertson's Regent University Law School, had developed a legal theory of the justifiable homicide of abortion providers which was the core of his 1993 Regent University Law School thesis. It had been prepared for publication in the school's law review, but all 500 copies of the review were suppressed prior to publication because Paul Hill's assassination of Dr. Britton suddenly made the article a PR nightmare. Hirsch has argued that the murder of Dr. David Gunn was "consistent with Biblical Truth" and under Florida law, justifiable if one "reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent the immediate death or great bodily harm to himself or another."  Hirsch wrote that the "presuppositions" he brings to any discussion "come from the Bible... it is impossible to fully consider the hypothetical defense of Michael Griffin without Scriptural support for the argument."

Hirsch later sought to test his theory in an appeal of Hill's murder conviction, but his theory was rejected by the courts, and Hill was executed by the state of Florida for his crimes.

The notion has evolved over time. In the 1980s, attorneys seeking to defend people accused of arson against abortion facilities, unsuccessfully sought to offer the "necessity defense."  In theological circles, the idea of vigilante action on behalf of what was thought to be "God's laws" was variously called "Defensive action" and "interposition."  Whether approached via the law or via theology, the idea was to justify criminal acts against abortion providers on behalf of the unborn.

But over time the notion of justifiable homicide has stuck, although it has no legal basis whatsoever. The Army of God uses the term to justify the assassination of Dr. George Tiller by Scott Roeder, for example.  Roeder, although he had discussed justifiable homicide in 1993 with Army of God leader Michael Bray, sought to use the necessity defense in court, but the judge denied this approach was applicable.  

No court in the country to my knowledge has allowed any defense in which the crime is acknowledged but excused via a necessity defense or the argument that murder of an abortion provider constitutes justifiable homicide. That is why it would have been significant if the South Dakota legislators pushing the idea had prevailed in passing the bill. It would probably have been struck down by the courts, but it would have once again raised into national debate about whether the entire notion that the assassination of abortion providers was somehow moral and legal.

In 1993 the idea that even a few people thought that the murder of a doctor was justified was shocking. Now, as woolly-headed as the idea may seem to some, elected officials are now seeking to insert the idea into law. The lead author Rep. Phil Jensen was joined by 22 co-sponsors in the House and 4 in the state Senate.

(I provide a more detailed discussion of the origins of the theory of the murder of abortion providers as justifiable homicide in my book Eternal Hostility:  The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, Common Courage Press, 1997.)




Display:
...but militant, violent anti-abortionism goes on.

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Feb 18, 2011 at 12:45:35 AM EST

The issue is so sensitive and in many countries there have not been a legitimate rule or law to be followed while such forceful murder of abortion is to be executed. The highest court of justice itself treats this on a case to case basis.    manufactured homes in arizona   

by rosemary on Thu Mar 24, 2016 at 08:22:25 AM EST


WWW Talk To Action


Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (5 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (4 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (0 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (4 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (6 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (0 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (4 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (3 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (6 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (6 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (7 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (21 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- http://www.talk2action.org/story/2016/7/21/04356/9417 I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (5 comments)
Fear
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (6 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (6 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (8 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (5 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (3 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (5 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (3 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (2 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (13 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (5 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (7 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (2 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (3 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.