No criminalizing abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, 64 prosecutors pledge
64 of the country's elected prosecutors, including 10 attorneys-general, issued a joint statement Wednesday morning promising not to criminalize abortion even if the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade falls.
Prosecutors said their decision was in line with their oath to "protect the integrity of our judicial system and uphold the constitution and rule of law".
The group said their testimony was due in part to growing concerns over the past few years about the passage of laws in at least a dozen states that they believe largely restrict abortion and are "ambiguous or tacit about whom they hold criminally accountable would ". Under the law, patients, medical professionals, and health care providers could potentially face criminal prosecution and incarceration if the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision granting women the constitutional right to opt for an abortion without undue government restriction is put down.
"Our commitment not to prosecute women who receive abortions and health professionals who provide treatment is based not only on these concerns - and would indeed apply if Roe v. Wade's protections were undermined or would be repealed, "the prosecutor said in their statement.
PHOTO: In this November 6, 2018 file photo, Attorney General-Elect Kathleen Jennings addresses supporters in Wilmington, Delaware (Saquan Stimpson / ZUMA Wire via Newscom, FILE).
The statement comes against the backdrop of a confirmatory hearing for Amy Coney Barrett, chosen by the Conservative Appellate Judge President Donald Trump to fill the Supreme Court seat of the late Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was the veteran of the liberal wing of the Supreme Court. Berett's confirmation would tilt the Supreme Court six or three hard to the right.
While Barrett has repeatedly declined to say how she would decide about abortion during her confirmation hearings this week, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have asked questions suggesting they believe she is against abortion.
Democrats have warned that their confirmation of overthrowing Roe v. Wade could lead.
MORE: Georgia's 6-week abortion ban has been officially lifted
"Elected prosecutors have immense discretion to protect the well-being and safety of everyone in their community and to uphold the constitution and the rule of law," said Miriam Krinsky, executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution, who organized the joint statement.
"During this time of crisis - with so many in our community grappling with the challenges of a global pandemic, economic downturn, and tremendous uncertainty - elected prosecutors have the opportunity to lead women and health care providers and provide them with peace of mind. who otherwise could be left in the untenable position of choosing between making personal health decisions and threatening criminal prosecution, "Krinsky said.
Signatures on the statement include the attorneys general of New York, California, Minnesota, Delaware, Vermont, Massachusetts, Oregon, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Washington D.C.
MORE: Senator Shares Family Abortion Story, First Sedentary Senator To Do This
The group represents a fraction of the more than 2,400 elected prosecutors in the nation, 83% of whom are men.
Recently passed laws restricting abortion rights
In their statement, prosecutors noted that several laws limiting abortion rights had recently been passed, including the Tennessee “Heartbeat” law passed in July, which restricts abortions, including bans on pregnancy after six weeks. Under Tennessee law, convicted violations can be punished with imprisonment of up to 15 years and fines of up to $ 10,000.
In Idaho and Utah, prosecutors said recently issued "trigger bans" would ban abortion with limited exceptions if Roe v. Wade would be repealed or a constitutional amendment would be passed to restrict abortion rights.
"It is worryingly clear that reproductive rights are under unprecedented attack both nationally and in many states, and my office has fought tirelessly to defend women's rights against these attacks," said Delaware Attorney General Kathleen Jennings, in a statement.
Jennings said she was grateful that Delaware and several other states had the foresight to bring Roe v. Wade to codify into state laws to permanently protect women's right to safe and legal abortion.
"But I have clear eyes that this fight goes beyond the borders of our state," said Jennings. "Draconian laws that unconstitutionally restrict or abolish abortion make us less safe, no more, and the disinformation campaigns that misrepresent the facts and vilify women who choose to terminate pregnancies are shameless."
Some of the prosecutors who signed the declaration are from states that recently passed laws restricting abortion.
Danny Carr, who signed the statement, is the district attorney for Jefferson County, Alabama, a state that passed law in May 2019 making it a crime for doctors to perform abortions in all cases, with the only exception that that Mother's life is threatened. In October 2019, a federal judge blocked the Alabama ban on abortion from taking effect, calling the law unconstitutional.
Shameca Collins is the District Attorney for the Mississippi District 6, where Governor Tate Reeves signed a bill in July banning abortion based on a fetus's race, sex, or genetic abnormality. The bill passed despite a federal judge temporarily blocking another Mississippi law that bans most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.
Sherry Boston and Paul Howard, who also signed the statement, are both prosecutors in Georgia, a state that passed a measure in 2019 to ban abortions after six weeks of gestation or after a doctor diagnoses a fetal heartbeat. This law, too, was ruled unconstitutional by an appeals court.
"As the elected district attorney for my county, I see firsthand how crime victims are hurt by pain and trauma every day, and it is my responsibility to bring justice to them and all members of my community," said Boston in a statement on Wednesday. "Not only do these laws fail to take into account the needs of victims, but they can also compromise public safety by spending law enforcement resources on the victim or the professionals who have provided them with the necessary and appropriate care, rather than the perpetrators of child abuse , Rape or incest, human trafficking or domestic violence. "
No criminal abortion if Roe v. Wade is upset, 64 prosecutors originally promised on abcnews.go.com
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