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January 26, 2023
A group of 83 prosecutors from 29 states, territories and Washington, D.C., have signed a pledge stating they will not file charges against anyone who seeks, provides, or supports abortions.
The joint statement included signatures from states like Mississippi, Missouri and Wisconsin that have banned or are poised to ban abortion. The group included district attorneys and state attorneys general.
“Not all of us agree on a personal or moral level on the issue of abortion,” the statement read. “But we 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. As such, we decline to use our offices’ resources to criminalize reproductive health decisions and commit to exercise our well-settled discretion and refrain from prosecuting those who seek, provide, or support abortions.”
The prosecutors claimed that enforcing such abortion bans would “hinder our ability to hold perpetrators accountable, take resources away from the enforcement of serious crime, and inevitably lead to the retraumatization and criminalization of victims of sexual violence.”
Joe Gonzalez, a district attorney in Bexar County, Texas, which includes San Antonio, said “using limited resources to prosecute personal healthcare decisions would be a violation” of his oath.
“Outlawing abortion will not end abortion; it will simply end safe abortions and prevent people from seeking the care and help they need for fear of criminal prosecution. I refuse to subject members of my community to that risk,” said Gonzalez.
Another Texas prosecutor, Travis County District Attorney José Garza, said in a statement: “While I am aware that our state’s ‘trigger law’ goes into effect in 30 days, making performing an abortion a felony, I will not force women into the shadows, especially when they need life-saving medical care. No matter what the law says, I implore you: please, seek medical help if you need it. A prosecutor’s job is to protect public safety, and to enforce this law will not only fail to promote or protect public safety but will also lead to more harm.”
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE BOSTON GLOBE