Dozens of Prosecutors Issue Pledge to Ignore Abortion Laws

The nonprofit organization Fair and Just Prosecution led an effort joined by 83 prosecutors around the country in issuing a joint statement pledging to not file charges or prosecute cases against women seeking abortions or medical professionals providing them in violation of duly-enacted laws.

Some of the prosecutors hold office in states with “trigger bans” that may have already gone into effect following Friday’s ruling striking down Roe v. Wade and returning abortion regulation back to the states.

The statement provides that while not every prosecutor signing the pledge agrees on abortion at a personal or moral level, they “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.”

They flatly declare that they will “decline to use our offices’ resources to criminalize reproductive health decisions.”

The group offers rationalizations about disregarding laws enacted by state legislatures at the expense of unborn life. They claim banning abortion would disproportionately harm victims of rape, incest, and domestic violence, and would simply force women to go through with an unwanted pregnancy.

Travis County Texas District Attorney Jose Garza is one of the prosecutors making the pledge. Texas is one of 13 states with a trigger law that has either already gone into effect or will shortly. He acknowledged that violation of the law is a felony but said he will “not force women into the shadows.” He said, “no matter what the law says, I implore you to please seek medical help if you need it.”

Garza also made the rather amazing statement that enforcing the law would be going against his duty to “protect public safety.”

Six county prosecutors in Michigan issued another statement saying they would not enforce the statute in that state prohibiting abortion. It has been on the books since 1931 and is now again enforceable with the end of Roe.

They said that they would not enforce the law because there were no women in the state legislature in 1931. They also said the law is “archaic” and is “unconstitutionally and dangerously vague.”

It is unclear what recourse state officials will have in each state against prosecutors who refuse to enforce properly enacted laws. However, in at least some states governors are authorized to appoint state Attorneys General to handle specific criminal proceedings when situations warrant.