As the Supreme Court prepares to overturn the constitutional right to abortion, progressive prosecutors are declaring they won’t enforce some of the most restrictive and punitive anti-abortion laws that GOP-led states have waited years to implement, the Associated Press reports. The move will rankle Republican lawmakers and governors, with about half the states poised to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade — the 1973 decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion — is weakened or overturned. Many Republican-led states have abortion clinics in large metro areas represented by Democratic district attorneys.
Anti-abortion laws largely avoid explicitly punishing pregnant women and instead tend to target physicians, who could face loss of medical licenses and long prison terms for performing the procedure illegally. Some abortion restrictions would penalize those who assist in an abortion and others could require women to testify against those who helped them. Enforcement of these laws will fall largely to district attorneys. It’s not unusual for prosecutors from Democratic counties to resist bringing charges under GOP-backed mandates— ranging from voting restrictions, limits on protest activity, laws aimed at LGBTQ people, and restrictions on mask requirements throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. In 2020, more than 70 prosecutors from blue districts said they wouldn’t bring charges under increasingly stringent laws that states have passed against abortion because they “should not and will not criminalize health care decisions.”