Some Red State Sheriffs, DAs Say They Won't Pursue Abortion Cases

In an expected but stunning development, the United States Supreme Court has overturned Roe vs. Wade, dismantling 50 years of national abortion rights. As of Friday, abortion is illegal in dozens of states across the country. In some states, this includes instances of incest and rape. 

The decision will force state governments to grapple with policies that were once theoretical. Voters who value reproductive rights in much of America will have to get mobilized in their state elections if they wish to see change.

But the battle over reproductive rights won’t just be fought in the state legislatures. This is becoming a potent local issue that will undoubtedly impact future city and county races.

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision, over 80 district attorneys from across the country have signed a letter vowing not to prosecute abortion-related offenses.

"We're engaged in overwhelming public safety issues right now and this is not a helpful addition to anything that any prosecutor wants to get involved in," said Milwaukee, Wisconsin District Attorney John Chisholm.

Another Wisconsin DA, Ismael Ozanne of Dane County, was even more blunt. 

"If the voters want a district attorney who prosecutes women for seeking an abortion or licensed providers who are acting in the best interest of their patients, they will need to elect someone else,” he said. 

The top prosecutor for New Orleans, Louisiana issued a statement Friday announcing his office will not prosecute abortion-related cases either. The court decision “demonstrates complete disregard for the long-established constitutional tenets of our democracy, and is a cruel and irresponsible stripping of a woman’s agency,” said DA Jason Williams.

Some other jurisdictions vowing not to prosecute abortion include Dallas County, Texas; Marion County, Indiana; Dekalb County, Georgia; Douglas County, Kansas; and Nashville, Tennessee.

Some county sheriffs have also said they won’t investigate abortion-related offenses.

"The Dane County Sheriff’s Office does not have the resources nor expertise to investigate medical professionals conducting medical procedures in medical facilities," said Dane County, Wisconsin Sheriff Kalvin Barrett on Friday.

Pima County, Arizona Sheriff Chris Nanos explained his department lacks the resources to arrest people at abortion clinics and will not make these arrests a priority.

It’s important to watch how the states respond. Pro-life groups are demanding that conservative state officials make an example out of any local official who refuses to enforce the law. One Texas lawmaker plans to introduce a bill that would allow district attorneys to prosecute abortion violations in other jurisdictions when the local DA refuses.

Click here to learn more about abortion laws in every state.