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Over 40 State and Local Prosecutors Say They Won’t Enforce Abortion Bans

Eleven state legislatures have passed extreme restrictions on abortion rights since the beginning of the 2019.

Abortion rights activist gathered outside the Supreme Court to protest against the recent abortion laws passed across the country in recent weeks on Tuesday, May 21, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

Calling a series of recent anti-choice laws in a number of states “unconscionable” and unconstitutional, more than three dozen state attorneys general and local prosecutors said Friday that they would not enforce the new legislation.

In a statement by the law enforcement coalition Fair and Just Prosecution, 42 elected prosecutors said enforcing “deeply concerning” laws recently passed in Georgia, Alabama, and other states would erode their communities’ trust in the justice system and traumatize patients who would be unable to access medical care that has been legal in the United States for more than 40 years.

“As elected prosecutors, we took an oath to uphold both the U.S. Constitution and the Constitutions of our individual states,” wrote the officials. “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.”

The statement comes after 11 state legislatures passed extreme restrictions on abortion rights since the beginning of the year, including several laws which would deny women the right to an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and once which bans the procedure throughout pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest.

Among the prosecutors who signed the statement were district attorneys from Alabama and Georgia, which passed some of the most extreme bans. Officials from New York and Massachusetts, which have recently passed laws to guarantee abortion rights in case of further attacks on Roe, also signed, as well as prosecutors from traditionally red states like Utah and Kansas.

“Not all of us are in states where women’s rights are threatened by statutes criminalizing abortion,” the statement reads. “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 and attorneys general shared their especially strong objection to thelaws passed in Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Mississippi, which include no exceptions for victims of rape or minors who are the victims of incest.

“These recent enactments by and large ignore the reality and suffering of victims,” wrote the prosecutors. “It is a prosecutor’s obligation to protect and seek justice on behalf of all members of our community, including victims who are often the most vulnerable and least empowered.”

“Laws that re-victimize and re-traumatize victims are unconscionable,” they added.

The newly-passed laws, according to the statement, are so vague that prosecutors could ostensibly be expected to criminally charge patients who obtain abortions, doctors, and virtually anyone who helped the patient to obtain the procedure.

Enforcing such legislation would “deeply erode” communities’ trust in their local law enforcement officials, the prosecutors wrote.

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