State and local prosecutors are threatening to refuse to enforce anti-abortion laws which may take effect should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, after a leaked draft opinion indicated the Supreme Court may overturn the 1973 ruling.
Local district attorneys in states with conservative abortion laws have indicated they will refuse to bring criminal charges against doctors performing abortions and mothers obtaining them, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Texas and Tennessee are two states that could see an near total ban on abortion should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade. Texas, for instance, passed a “trigger law” last year which would make abortion a felony and would go into effect a month after the Supreme Court is scheduled to vote on Roe v. Wade, according to the Texas Tribune.
So much for “safe and rare” https://t.co/m2HZtRoByR
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) May 24, 2022
Tennessee passed a similar bill in 2019, with an exception granted only for abortions conducted to save the life of the mother.
“It was an easy decision because it makes the community safe,” District Attorney Jose Garza of Travis County, Texas, told Route Fifty regarding his decision not to enforce the Texas law. (RELATED: Democrats Are Training An Army Of New Abortion Providers For The Post-Roe World)
When Tennessee passed a law banning abortions after six weeks, Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk said, “I will not prosecute any woman who chooses to have a medical procedure to terminate a pregnancy or any medical doctor who performs this procedure at the request of their patient,” according to the Tennessean.
In 2020, 68 state and local prosecutors signed a letter declaring their intention to not prosecute those who violated anti-abortion laws. The letter stated that under Roe v. Wade, abortion was declared a constitutional right, and thus fell under the scope of their oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution. But the letter also emphasized that even without Roe v. Wade, the signers would not prosecute women and medical personnel who obtain or administer abortions.
“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 letter stated.
The local officials who signed the letter argued that, as prosecutors, they were granted the discretion to decide whether to enforce anti-abortion laws.
“Prosecutors are entrusted with immense discretion,” the letter stated.
“I absolutely have discretion,” Joe Gonzales, District Attorney for Bexar County, Texas, who also signed the letter, told Route Fifty.
But Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation Thomas Jipping told the Daily Caller that no such discretion exists in regard to enforcing the law.
“These are rogue prosecutors. They don’t have authority to decide which laws they will enforce,” Jipping said.
“They’re in the executive branch of government,” Jipping continued. “Any sixth grader knows that the executive branch of government exists to enforce the law.”
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot also signed the letter, pledging not to enforce anti-abortion laws. In response to request for comment from the Daily Caller concerning the potential abortion ruling, his office provided a statement Creuzot signed in April. The statement, written after the passing of Texas Senate Bill 8, which banned abortions after a heartbeat could be detected, pledged, “we will not prosecute or criminalize personal healthcare decisions.”
In many cases, refusing to enforce the law could be grounds for removal from office, Jipping said. (RELATED: Supreme Court Hears Arguments On Texas Heartbeat Act)
“Any legislature that will pass or bring into effect a passed pro-life law that their state’s prosecutors refuse to enforce should take action to remove the prosecutor who refuses to do their job,” Jipping said.