WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- A group of 84 prosecutors said in a joint statement that they will refuse to file charges against women seeking abortions.
- The group also signed a statement saying they will also not prosecute medical professionals who provide the procedure.
- The statement came after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday.
Dozens of elected prosecutors signed a joint statement on Friday saying they would refuse to prosecute those seeking, assisting, or providing abortions. The statement came after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion.
The 84 prosecutors come from 29 states, territories and Washington, D.C., including states that have banned or are set to ban abortion services after the Roe v. Wade reversal. The group consists of district attorneys and state attorneys general.
“Not all of us agree on a personal or moral level on the issue of abortion,” said the statement. “But we stand together in our firm belief that prosecutors have a responsibility to refrain from using limited criminal legal system resources to criminalize personal medical decisions. As such, we decline to use our offices’ resources to criminalize reproductive health decisions and commit to exercise our well-settled discretion and refrain from prosecuting those who seek, provide, or support abortions.”
The group also said that imposing abortion bans would also “hinder our ability to hold perpetrators accountable, take resources away from the enforcement of serious crime, and inevitably lead to the retraumatization and criminalization of victims of sexual violence.”
States that already enacted abortion bans include Kentucky, Louisiana, South Dakota, and Missouri. These states passed laws that could charge abortion providers with some class of felony.
Joe Gonzalez, a district attorney in Bexar County, Texas, who also signed the joint statement, said: “using limited resources to prosecute personal healthcare decisions would be a violation” of his oath.
“Outlawing abortion will not end abortion; it will simply end safe abortions and prevent people from seeking the care and help they need for fear of criminal prosecution. I refuse to subject members of my community to that risk,” Gonzalez added.
Aside from Gonzalez, there were four other prosecutors from Texas who signed the joint statement.
Texas is among 13 states with so-called “trigger laws” that will take effect immediately after a Roe reversal. Missouri is another “trigger law” state that bans doctors from performing abortions.
Wesley Bell was the only prosecutor from Missouri to sign the joint statement organized by Fair and Just Prosecution — a liberal group of elected state and local prosecutors “committed to promoting a justice system grounded in fairness, equity, compassion, and fiscal responsibility.”
Miriam Krinsky, the executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution, called the Supreme Court’s decision “a jarring betrayal” of generations of Americans.
Krinsky said in a statement that elected prosecutors are “the last line of defense” in efforts to protect patients and providers from criminal charges as several states start banning abortion.