With the leak this week of a draft U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down Roe v. Wade, the court seems intent on revoking the nearly half-century-long constitutional protection for abortions. With the power to criminalize abortion back in the hands individual states, many will work quickly to ban abortion. It is expected that half the population of the country will live in a place that will outlaw the medical procedure. This would leave the prosecution of these so-called “crimes” up to local prosecutors. Yesterday, the national Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA), an organization with which CHLP frequently partners, released a statement expressing strong opposition to the criminalization of abortion. “Forcing prosecutors into the public health space erodes the institutional integrity of the profession and destroys the trust of communities we took oaths to protect…Threatening our communities with criminal sanctions for reproductive healthcare is an injustice.” The APA encourages prosecutors to exercise discretion to refrain from pursuing criminal charges when it “negatively impacts public welfare, undermines safety, or furthers inequities.” The statement was made through the through the APA’s new Addressing Disparities to Reproductive Health Advisory Committee, which was launched in January to support prosecutors in reducing reproductive health-related investigations and prosecutions including pregnancy loss and abortion.
Read the full statement:
Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and Addressing Disparities to Reproductive Health Advisory Committee Releases Statement on the Criminalization of Abortion
May 5, 2022
The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA), through its Addressing Disparities to Reproductive Health Advisory Committee, hereby releases this Statement of Prosecutors on the criminalization of abortion.
“As prosecutors, our clients are the people, and our principal duty is to seek justice within the bounds of the law. Our duty is to serve the public interest, respect the rights of all people, and to exercise discretion to pursue criminal charges only in appropriate circumstances. We refrain from doing so when it negatively impacts public welfare, undermines safety, or furthers inequities.”
“Healthcare, including abortion, and its attendant decision-making processes are private medical matters. Law enforcement, including prosecutors, should not be thrust into this realm. Laws that criminalize healthcare do not protect the public, but instead cost lives. Such laws impede safe medical care and prevent individuals from seeking healthcare services for fear of prosecution, alienating communities, thereby causing dangerous outcomes.”
“Forcing prosecutors into the public health space erodes the institutional integrity of the profession and destroys the trust of communities we took oaths to protect. This compromises public safety. Our responsibilities to our communities, both to safeguard and to inform, are paramount. Threatening our communities with criminal sanctions for reproductive healthcare is an injustice.”
“Prosecutorial discretion for criminal charging decisions is fundamental to our sworn duty to the pursuit of justice. We will exercise that discretion to limit the erosion of reproductive rights. We oppose the criminalization of abortion.”