A coalition of 83 prosecutors collectively representing 87 million people from 28 states and territories have publicly vowed not to prosecute those seeking and performing abortions in the wake of the Supreme Court’s opinion clearing the way for bans and legal action.
“Not all of us agree on a personal or moral level on the issue of abortion. 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,” according to a joint statement sent by Los Angeles County District Attorney George Cascón. “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 joint statement asserts that criminalizing abortion will not end the practice, but will inhibit safe procedures and inhibit those needing medical, social, and law enforcement help from seeking it.
“Prosecutors, police, and our medical partners cannot do our jobs when many victims and witnesses of crime or other emergencies are unwilling to work with us for fear that their private medical decisions will be criminalized,” the release states.
“We are horrified that some states have failed to carve out exceptions for victims of sexual violence and incest in their abortion restrictions; this is unconscionable,” the statement said. “And, even where such exceptions do exist, abortion bans still threaten the autonomy, dignity, and safety of survivors, forcing them to choose between reporting their abuse or being connected to their abuser for life.”
The prosecutors are comprised from states that plan to protect reproductive rights like California and Illinois, but also include those from 11 states that plan to implement stricter restrictions like Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama.
“This is a sad day in America,” said Gascón, who is one of the 83 elected prosecutors who signed the pledge. “The Supreme Court has told half the population that it has no right to bodily autonomy. One Justice said out loud that we should reconsider even more rights, including the right of everyone to love and marry who they choose. I grieve for all those women who have lost so much today, and for all those people who live in fear that they will lose more tomorrow.”
The represented states and territories include Georgia, California, Missouri, Virginia, New York, Maryland, Alabama, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas, Vermont, Oregon, Illinois, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Hawaii, Indiana, Illinois, Washington, Mississippi, New Mexico, Kansas, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, the District of Columbia, and the Northern Mariana Islands.