After a leaked Supreme Court draft decision indicated the high court is poised to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which would effectively eliminate federal abortion protections and lead to bans in a number of states, some state and local officials have said they will not prosecute abortion-related cases.
The draft ruling published by Politico in May would give individual states authority over abortion access. According to the abortion rights advocacy group Guttmacher Institute, 13 states have so-called trigger laws in place that would almost immediately ban or severely restrict abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned and another 9 still have laws or constitutional amendments against the procedure in place from before the 1973 decision.
A number of states have also moved to restrict abortion access in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s decision on the matter.
But some state and local officials, even in states that have the trigger laws in place, have said they are not intent on prosecuting people over the matter, possibly putting officials at odds with one another.
Below is a list of local and state officials who have said they do not plan to enforce abortion bans. (Note, this list may not be entirely cumulative and may change):
DeKalb County, Ga.
The district attorney for DeKalb County has said she would not prosecute abortion providers or those seeking an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Background on Georgia’s current abortion laws: A federal judge blocked legislation initially passed in 2019 that would ban abortions as early as six weeks into the pregnancy when a fetal heartbeat is detected, ruling that it violated a precedent established in Roe v. Wade, U.S. News & World Report noted. But that law could likely proceed forward should the high court overturn Roe v. Wade.
Orleans Parish, La.
Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Rogers Williams said in a letter in May that he did not plan to prosecute cases related to abortion.
“My office is focused on pursuing accountability and justice for the most serious, violent crimes committed against our people. I cannot and will not shift the priority from tackling shootings, rapes and carjackings to investigating the choices women make with regard to their own bodies,” he wrote to several councilmembers in a letter he shared on Twitter.
Louisiana has a trigger law: Should Roe v. Wade no longer apply, the measure would bar anyone from prescribing pregnant women abortion medication or performing an abortion.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) told The Guardian in an interview this month that she would not enforce an abortion ban in her state.
“I don’t want to see politicians removing the rights I had during the course of my pregnancy for other women,” she told the news outlet.
“I don’t want to see medical emergencies, where women are literally left to die on an operating table, because of an ectopic pregnancy, or complications in a pregnancy. I don’t want the doctor saying, ‘I’m out. I’m not going to risk losing my license … or going to jail,’” she added.
Background on where things stand in Michigan: The state has a 1931 law on hold, which Nessel says she does not intend to enforce, that makes it a crime to advertise or sell abortion medications and a felony to provide an abortion unless it’s for the purpose of saving the patient’s life, the Detroit Free Press noted.
A handful of Democratic prosecutors in the state have also said they do not plan on enforcing the 1931 law, according to PBS NewsHour.
Durham County, N.C.
Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry has said she will not prosecute abortion providers or those seeking to terminate pregnancies.
“Criminalizing personal health care decisions around abortion creates untenable choices for women – particularly those experiencing sexual assault and domestic violence – and undermines trust and fairness in our criminal legal system,” she said in a statement issued by her office over Twitter in May.
Background on the legality of abortions in the state: Abortions can be performed in North Carolina, though there are restrictions in place, according to Guttmacher Institute.
Radnor Township, Pa.
An ordinance was passed earlier this week by Radnor Township that police cannot file criminal charges, make arrests or assist in the prosecution regarding cases of abortion, WPVI reported.
Background on the legality of abortions in the state: Abortions can be performed in the state before 24 weeks. According to Guttmacher, abortions can only be performed after that point in situations of health or life endangerment.
Austin and Bexar County, Texas
Austin City Council member Chito Vela has offered a proposal that would make it less of a priority to make arrests for and criminally enforce abortions.
“The City of Austin must do everything we can to protect abortion rights. That includes decriminalizing abortion locally, an approach similar to our policy towards marijuana arrests. No enforcement, no investigations, no arrests,” he tweeted in May.
His proposed resolution would limit the resources used for reporting and investigating abortions and instruct police to make arresting people over and enforcing laws against the procedure their lowest priority, according to Politico.
Meanwhile, Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales has said he will not enforce abortion cases.
“The only boss I have are the citizens of Bexar County. The only boss I have are the people standing here — the voters,” he said, according to Texas Public Radio. “They make the decision about whether or not I’m doing the right job. I’m not worried about Ken Paxton. I’m not worried about Governor Abbott or anybody else in Austin.”
Texas’ abortion law: Abortions are not legal in the state beginning when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy. Private citizens can sue those who are found aiding someone in getting an abortion.
Fairfax County, Va.
Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said in May he would never prosecute someone seeking an abortion.
Current status of abortion in Virginia: During the first and second trimesters of a person’s pregnancy, abortions are allowed in the state, according to The Washington Post, while the procedure must be certified by three doctors when there is a health or life risk to be legally performed in the third trimester.
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul (D) said in May he would not enforce a ban on abortion, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.
Current law in the state: Abortion is permitted, with some restrictions, for the first 20 weeks after fertilization, according to Guttmacher Institute. After that point, it can only legally be performed if the life of there is a risk to the life of the pregnant person or their risk is severely compromised.