Prosecutorial Reform

42 Elected Prosecutors Nationwide Say They Would Refuse to Enforce Criminalized Abortion

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

On Friday, June 7,  a group of 42 elected prosecutors announced that they had joined in signing a document that states “prosecutors should not participate in efforts to criminalize abortions.”

The prosecutors are from 24 states around the nation, plus the District of Columbia and the list includes 12 attorneys general.

In the statement, released Friday morning by Fair and Just Prosecution, the group argues that laws like those recently passed in Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, and Ohio violate constitutional rights “that have been the law of the land for nearly 50 years.”

Women’s march photo courtesy of the ACLU

The prosecutors who joined in signing the statement also warn that some of the laws are so vaguely written that they “leave open the possibility of criminal prosecution and lengthy sentences for anyone involved in an abortion,” from the “patient receiving the abortion, to the physician performing the procedure, to the person who drove the patient to the facility.”

The signatories include California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, New York, DA, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., San Francisco, DA, George Gascon, Santa Clara DA, Jeff Rosen, and others from California, and various progressive-leaning states.

But the list also includes a healthy list of prosecutors from more conservative-leaning states like John Creuzot, DA of Dallas County, Texas;  Danny Carr of Jefferson County, Alabama; Satana Deberry of Durham County, North Carolina; Sim Gill of Salt Lake County, Utah; David Cooke of Macon Judicial Circuit, Georgia; Mark Dupree, the DA from Wyandotte County, Kansas, and lots more.

(When you check the list, you’ll see quite a few signatories from Texas.)

“Prosecutors are charged with maintaining the integrity of the justice system and preserving the rule of law upon which public trust is predicated,” said Miriam Krinsky, Executive Director of Fair and Just Prosecution, a national nonprofit working for prosecutorial reform around the nation and the organizer of the sign-on statement.

“When laws are enacted that threaten confidence in the justice system and put members of the community at risk, prosecutors have an affirmative duty to take action. These laws threaten fundamental and well-established rights to privacy and healthcare access and prosecutors have an obligation as ministers of justice to speak out and offer reassurance to members of their community.”

Interestingly, the statement makes clear that not all those who signed “agree on a personal or moral level on the issue of abortion.”

And, obviously, not all live in states that are criminalizing abortion or threatening to do so.

“What brings us together,” says the statement, ” is our view that as prosecutors we should not and will not criminalize healthcare decisions such as these.”

Prosecutors, the group writes, “are entrusted with immense discretion. With this discretion, comes the obligation to use it wisely to seek justice.”

In a new statement released June 6, the Pew Research Center notes that about six-in-ten U.S. adults (58%) said in a 2018 survey that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared with 37% who said it should be illegal all or most of the time. Public opinion on this question has been relatively stable over more than two decades of Pew Research Center polling, and there is little difference between the views of men and women.

11 Comments

  • Pretty bold statement and admission regarding violating your oath to enforce the law fairly, not disagree with it or leave it to your own personnel whim and interpretation. I’m sure many a police officers would love to adopt the same stance regarding the enforcement of those laws they personnely disagree with.

    I hope all the prosecutors who made that statement hold firm to their belief and either find another line of work or be prepared to face whatever electoral consequences or legal consequences come their way. Definitely grounds for a defense based on prosecutoral bias.

    The scales of justice should not be weighed down by personnel beliefs… haven’t we seen enough of this through the unequal application of the law as it relates to the poor an minorities?

  • Thumbs up for Insanity. Enforcing the LAW is not a pick and choose vocation. You swore an oath to uphold the law – ALL laws. Not just the ones you agree with. Those people should be impeached.

    I first noticed this “pick and choose” enforcement when “society” decided it was ok for people to steal shopping carts. I guess someone made that decision because all of a sudden that seemed to be a theft law that no one paid any attention to. I my book it is not, nor is many other laws that “society” seems to think is ok. If it is ok, then change the law.

  • Careful…. It’s done all the time. Many Sheriffs went public saying they wouldn’t enforce their States crazy gun laws.

  • From what I have read, this is not simply a matter of personal like/dislike. It is a professional legal opinion that the restrictions are vague and likely unconstitutional.

    • @ TAB
      At least that you’re one of few that can separate facts from feelings.

      Too many are “champing at the bit” with their responses without the totality of the story.

  • I don’t agree with how my tax dollars are spent. So i Am not going to pay state or federal taxes anymore. Will these prosecutors please not prosecute me?

    Like the article says “what brings us together” well a bunch of us are brought together by the idea that politicians are idiots and spend are money improperly and we refuse to pay taxes

  • Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo, what these prosecutors said is that “prosecutors should not participate in efforts to criminalize abortions.” And what brings them together “is our view that as prosecutors we should not and will not criminalize healthcare decisions such as these.” Now, don’t those statements sound like it is from someone who is against criminalizing abortions? Just a little maybe??? (And save the key strokes, I saw the line in there that there are people who represent both sides of the abortion issue who have signed the letter – how many I wonder)

    Yes they say that these laws “violate constitutional rights ‘that have been the law of the land for nearly 50 years.’ Well, if they say that is the case, then they need to take it to court and see what the courts say about it. Not unilaterally decide what and when they will enforce duly enacted laws. Every frigging lawyer I’ve ever met is quick to throw the “I’ll take you to court” line out. What’s holding these pikers back? Just ask’n.

  • Gentlemen- Sounds like several of you would have made good Nazis or Southern Sheriffs, especially, I get the sense, 25 Cents. No Jews or Blacks, that is the law. Would you have enforced it? Must be nice to see the world in black and white, without any grey in between. Or, to be a high holly roller with faith in the lord and the Good Book.

    And, perhaps you folks aren’t aware, but prosecutors already have a lot of leeway and exercise it in terms of what, when and who they prosecute. And, you in law enforcement do it to all the time, certain people you give a pass (they are usually lighter shades), certain laws or people you do not want to deal with, at times if for no other reason than the extra paperwork or you are at the end of your shift. No doubt there were times your partners or brethren in uniform crossed the line, maybe even criminally, and you looked the other way. Stop being hypocrites.

    Just Ask’n, of course they do not want to criminalize it. No doubt you did well on the reading comprehension part. And, of course, it will end up in court. In fact, that is the whole purpose of the laws – the high holly rollers in the backwoods, good country folk, are doing it to give the supreme court another bite at the apple. You see, according to these snake handling, tongue speaking, god-fearing folks, the lord believes life begins at conception. Fuck them once they are born, or if thy are at the border, or poor; but that embryo and fetus, save it. But, alas, it wont work. My sisters aren’t going for it. You can wish for the good ‘ole days, but we ain’t going back.

    • …and those “God fearing” folks who people like yourself (socialist, communist, anarchist, leftist, progressive, atheist, moral/value less) like to insult and put down are the reason the Democratic Party and so called liberals will never win another presidential election.

      Keep on holding tight to states like California and New York as the rest of the country looks to those states as an example of “how they don’t want to be ran” and what they don’t want the country to turn into. Does the term out of touch with the main stream ring a bell.

  • You got it cf, a Nazi behind every bush. In your world, everyone is out to get you. It must be difficult to go around thinking that way. Sorry, it just ain’t that way. In fact I am not a proponent of the right-to-life movement and not a proponent of some of those laws that were passed. BUT I am a proponent of equal enforcement under the law. As Ask’n said, take it to court or change the law.

  • Meanwhile, back at The Fort (LASD), under the rocks where nobody can see

    https://abc7.com/lasd-lieutenant-says-he-tried-to-warn-about-malibu-creek-state-park-killer/5338035/

    BASICS:

    This is the LASD lieutenant assigned to give public briefings during the Malibu Creek State Park shootings, and in this story he is saying that

    1. The LASD wanted to kiss off the shootings as a “State Parks problem.”
    2. What he was told to say in public briefings was different from what he really thought.

    For all of that the Lieutenant is now suffering Departmental retaliation; hence, the lawsuit.

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