Over 60 prosecutors, AGs say they will not criminalize abortion if Roe v. Wade overturned

Over 60 prosecutors, AGs say they will not criminalize abortion if Roe v. Wade overturned
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Over 60 local prosecutors and state attorneys general issued a joint statement Wednesday saying that they will not enforce laws criminalizing abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that first legalized the procedure nationwide.

The statement comes amid the Senate confirmation hearings for President TrumpDonald TrumpFacebook temporarily bans ads for weapons accessories following Capitol riots Sasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOP Section 230 worked after the insurrection, but not before: How to regulate social media MORE's third Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. If Barrett is confirmed the court would have a heavy conservative tilt and Democrats have sounded the alarm that Roe v. Wade could be overturned.

The 63 prosecutors in the joint statement took aim at state laws looking to curtail abortions as well as the prospect that Roe v. Wade may be scrapped altogether in the near future, noting that while they shared different personal opinions on the procedure, they felt curbing access to abortion would criminalize health care decisions.


“As some elected prosecutors have noted, the broad restrictions in the laws passed by these states appear to be unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade. Many of us share those legal views, but our commitment to not prosecute women who obtain abortions and health care professionals who provide treatment is not predicated on these concerns alone – and, indeed, would hold even if the protections of Roe v. Wade were to be eroded or overturned,” they said.

“Not all of us agree on a personal or moral level on the issue of abortion. And not all of us are in states where women's rights are threatened by statutes criminalizing abortion. What brings us together is our view that as prosecutors we should not and will not criminalize healthcare decisions such as these – and we believe it is our obligation as elected prosecutors charged with protecting the health and safety of all members of our community to make our views clear.”

The prosecutors specifically cited laws in states like Idaho and Utah that would put in place “trigger bans” on abortion with limited exceptions if Roe v. Wade were overturned as well as measures in other places that would penalize doctors who perform abortions after certain amounts of time, such as six weeks after pregnancy in Tennessee and eight weeks in Missouri.

The prosecutors note that many of the laws fail to include exceptions for victims of rape or incest, adding that limited law enforcement resources could be better spent tackling “serious crimes.”

“Resources in our criminal justice system are inherently limited. We believe that the wise use of discretion requires balancing these limited resources, while meeting the safety needs of our communities. In our view, resources are better utilized to prevent and address serious crimes that impact our community rather than enforcing laws such as these that divide our community, create untenable choices for women and healthcare providers, and erode trust in the justice system,” they said.

The statement was signed by the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Vermont, all of whom are Democrats, as well as 53 local prosecutors.

Barrett has declined to outline how she would rule in an abortion case but raised eyebrows when she said the 1973 ruling was not a "superprecedent," which she defined as a case that is "so well settled that no political actors and no people seriously push for their overruling."