State Watch

District attorneys near Atlanta vow not to prosecute women who get abortions

District attorneys across the Atlanta area have vowed not to prosecute women who seek an abortion despite Georgia's new fetal "heartbeat" abortion ban.

The Fulton County District Attorney's Office told 11 Alive News that it has no plans to prosecute women under the new law, signed by Gov. Brian Kemp (R), that will be going into effect on Jan. 1.

"DA Howard has no intention of ever prosecuting a woman under this new law," said Chris Hopper, director of public affairs for the Fulton County District Attorney's Office.

DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston made a similar pledge, vowing to uphold the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

Boston said in a statement to the outlet that she has "grave concerns" about the Georgia bill and its constitutionality.

"This law obviously sets out to criminalize abortion in the State of Georgia. The question is - who will be held criminally responsible? The law, as written, is either silent or ambiguous, at best, on this question," Boston wrote.

The district attorney wrote that she would be using her charging discretion.

"As a woman and mother, I am concerned about the passage and attempted passage of laws such as this one in Georgia, Alabama, and other states," she wrote. "I believe it is a woman's right to make decisions regarding her own body and medical care, including, but not limited to, seeking an abortion, as upheld by the United States Supreme Court."

Cobb County District Attorney John Melvin said he would "absolutely not" prosecute a woman for seeking an abortion but did not specify if he would pursue cases against health care professionals who provide the procedure.

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter also said his office would not prosecute women under the new law for as long as he was in office, according to the outlet. 

Georgia's legislature passed legislation earlier this month banning abortions once a fetus has a detectable heartbeat. Critics slammed the bill, saying that the six-week mark when a heartbeat is detected is often before many women even know they are pregnant.

The measure, HB 481, will bar doctors from performing abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Prior Georgia law allowed women to undergo an abortion within 20 weeks of a pregnancy. 

Exceptions will be granted if the pregnancy is believed to be "medically futile," if the women's life is at risk, or if a police report has been filed related to rape or incest.

Similar laws have passed this year in Mississippi and Georgia, while another in Kentucky was blocked in court earlier this year. 

The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday filed a lawsuit challenging an Ohio law that banned most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. 

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) this week signed an abortion ban into law prohibiting nearly all abortions in the state.

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