At least 12 states have passed anti-abortion laws since last year and brought criminal charges against women who have abortions, doctors who perform them, or both, according to Fair and Just Prosecution, the group that organized the declaration.
Prosecutors who signed Wednesday's statement include Danny Carr of Jefferson County, Ala., Whose lawmaker passed a law that would give a minimum of 10 years' imprisonment to any doctor who performs an abortion in almost any circumstance, and Glenn Funk of Nashville, whose state passed a "heartbeat" law that restricted abortions that were performed after six weeks. Federal courts temporarily blocked the laws in Alabama and Tennessee, but anti-abortion groups are appealing.
"It is imperative," said prosecutors in their statement, "that we use our discretion to oppose the prosecution of personal health care decisions that are criminalized under such laws." Citing Roe's 47-year precedent, prosecutors said, "Women have the right to make decisions about their own medical care, including, but not limited to, seeking an abortion."
The statement was signed by eleven attorneys general, including Xavier Becerra of California, Kwame Raoul of Illinois, Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania, and Karl A. Racine of DC, all Democrats elected. Fifty-three city and county attorneys also signed the statement, including Cyrus Vance Jr. of New York, Kim Foxx of Chicago, Chesa Boudin of San Francisco, and Larry Krasner of Philadelphia.
In the Washington area, prosecutors in Prince George, Fairfax, Arlington and Loudoun counties and the city of Alexandria joined the declaration, while prosecutors in Montgomery and Prince William did not.
One of the main objections to the anti-abortion laws cited by prosecutors is that many do not create exemptions for women seeking abortions for child abuse, rape, incest, human trafficking, or domestic violence. They said that criminalizing abortion would deter such victims from reporting the crimes. "Laws that revict and re-traumatize victims are incomprehensible," said the prosecutor. "To keep communities safe, we need to foster trust which enforcement of these laws would deeply undermine."
Last year Georgia passed law giving prosecutors the discretion to bring charges against "anyone involved in performing and assisting an abortion," Fair and Just Prosecution said. Three Georgia prosecutors – Paul Howard from Atlanta, David Cooke from Macon County, and Sherry Boston from DeKalb County – signed a statement saying they would not enforce such laws. A federal court in Georgia overturned the anti-abortion law there in July, but the governor said the state would appeal.
"Not only do these laws fail to take into account the needs of victims," Boston said in a press release, "but they could actually harm public safety by spending law enforcement resources on the victim or the professionals who provide them with the necessary and appropriate care, instead of." about the perpetrators of child abuse, rape, incest, human trafficking or domestic violence. "
The prosecutor's statement said they believe many of Roe's new anti-abortion laws are unconstitutional, but their decision not to prosecute abortions would "apply even if Roe v. Wade's protections were undermined or lifted would".
Miriam Krinsky, Executive Director of Fair and Just Prosecution, said: “Elected prosecutors have the ability to guide and provide peace of mind to women and health professionals who may otherwise be left intolerable to choose between engaging in personal acts Healthcare Decisions and the Risk of Prosecution. "
The full statement and list of signatories can be found here.