State Watch

County official near DC says he will ‘never prosecute a woman for having an abortion’

Associated Press/Lynne Sladky

A Fairfax County, Va., official this week said that he doesn’t have plans to ever prosecute individuals who receive abortions amid revelations that the U.S. Supreme Court may be poised to reverse the ruling that made the procedure a federally constitutional right.

In an interview with WTOP News published on Tuesday, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano (D) said that criminalizing abortion would jeopardize women’s right to privacy. 

“Officers would potentially be going through women’s trash cans to see if there are drugs or alcohol in their trash can; they can get search warrants for their emails and text messages to see their innermost thoughts,” Descano told the media outlet. “They could be pulling in their friends and partners to get an understanding of individual women’s sexual history.”

“All of these things are an Orwellian nightmare that I don’t think that the people of Fairfax County want to be living under,” Descano added.

Descano also said that Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) is “unabashedly anti-choice,” adding that Youngkin will go through the attempt to push for new abortion bans in the state, according to WTOP.

Descano added that voters in Virginia also elect their own prosecutors, saying that state law allows them to make decisions on matters involving abortions. 

“They elect their own prosecutors, because it’s the job of the prosecutor to make sure the criminal justice system accords with the community’s values,” Descano said. “Virginia law explicitly allows prosecutors to make this type of decision — that action of discretion is the backbone of prosecution, and it is why we elect prosecutors at the local level to make these type of decisions.”

Descano joins an extensive list of prominent figures and organizations that have shared their opinions on abortion rights after a draft opinion obtained by Politico last month signaled the majority of justices would favor overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Descano also wrote an op-ed in The New York Times published Tuesday, saying that the local prosecutors should be the “last in the line of defense” against criminalizing people for their own health decisions, noting that he is “terrified” of growing up in a country that limits his own daughter choices.

“By making clear to law enforcement that we won’t prosecute women for making health care decisions, we can disincentivize these intrusions into the personal lives of the people we serve,” Descano wrote in the op-ed.

Tags Abortion abortion ban abortion ban Abortion in the United States abortion rights Fairfax County Glenn Youngkin Roe v. Wade Steve Descano Supreme Court Supreme Court of the United States The New York Times Virginia

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