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.”
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.