As Judge Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation to the Supreme Court looms, dozens of leftist prosecutors from around the country signed onto a letter stating they will refuse to press charges for abortion even if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Barrett, a pro-life appointee, is believed to favor striking down the controversial 1973 ruling should a challenge to it arise during her tenure — and that possibility evidently has abortion proponents spooked.
What are the details?
In the letter issued by Fair and Just Prosecution, 64 prosecutors ranging from local attorneys to state attorneys generally agree "not prosecute women who obtain abortions [or] health care professionals" who perform the procedures "even if the protections of Roe v. Wade were to be eroded or overturned."
"Not all of us agree on a personal or moral level on the issue of abortion," the letter continues. "And not all of us are in states where women's rights are threatened by statutes criminalizing abortion. 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."
1/ 64 elected prosecutors issued a joint statement today affirming that they will not prosecute abortion decisions,… https://t.co/i7D0NLhDDL— Fair and Just Prosecution (@Fair and Just Prosecution)1602685060.0
According to Fair and Just Prosecution's website, the organization aims to "bring together newly elected local prosecutors as part of a network of leaders committed to promoting a justice system grounded in fairness, equity, compassion, and fiscal responsibility."
In the letter, the prosecutors specifically take aim at states like Idaho and Utah, which have recently passed so-called "trigger laws," which would automatically ban most abortions if Roe were overturned.
Regarding these laws, the prosecutors state: "Doctors, nurses, anesthetists, health care providers, office receptionists — virtually anyone who either performs or assists in performing or arranging what is currently a legal medical procedure based on precedent for almost a half century — and in some states, even the patient herself, could face criminal liability under these statutes."
But that statement may be misleading. At the least, it's important to note that even if Roe were to be overturned, abortions would not become illegal unless state legislatures passed laws making them illegal in that state.
As for who would be criminally liable for still performing abortions, that would likely need to be further litigated.