Last month more than 40 state and local prosecutors–including Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry–
signed a joint statement
that said, in part:
As elected prosecutors, we are committed to protecting the safety and well-being of all individuals in our communities. We are also charged with protecting the integrity of our justice system and upholding the Constitution and rule of law. Fulfilling these obligations goes hand-in-hand. We know from our collective experience that when communities trust us and see the fair, equitable, and sensible exercise of prosecutorial discretion, they are more inclined to work with all parts of our justice system as we seek to promote safer and healthier communities. Several states have recently passed, or are considering the passage of, broad restrictions on abortion. Many of these new enactments are ambiguous or silent as to whom they would hold criminally responsible, leaving open the potential for criminalizing patients, medical professionals, healthcare providers, and possibly others who assist in these medical procedures. …
As elected prosecutors with charging discretion, we choose not to prosecute individuals pursuant to these deeply concerning laws. Legal precedent, as established by the highest court in the land, has held for nearly 50 years that women have a right to make decisions about their own medical care including, but not limited to, seeking an abortion. Enforcement of laws that criminalize healthcare decisions would shatter that precedent, impose untenable choices on victims and healthcare providers, and erode trust in the integrity of our justice system. To fulfill our obligations as prosecutors and ministers of justice to preserve the integrity of the system and keep our communities safe and healthy, it is imperative that we use our discretion to decline to prosecute personal healthcare choices criminalized under such laws.