It’s no longer just against the law to have an abortion in Texas. Now prosecutors themselves will also be punished if they don’t go after abortion law-breakers. Here is the full story.
Strengthening Anti-Abortion Laws
A new regulation in Texas passed at the beginning of September seeks to strengthen the state’s already stringent anti-abortion laws.
Texas Senate Bill 20 went into effect on September 1 and takes direct aim at prosecutors who may want to look the other way. It’s another turn of the screw on the ongoing fight over abortion rights.
Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in the summer of 2022, states have been free to enact their own standards with regard to the legality of abortion.
It came as a surprise to no one that hyper-conservative Texas banned most abortions almost right away.
Not “Vigorously” Prosecuted
But prosecutors in several major Texas counties decided not to prosecute people who violated those laws for the most part.
In fact, several of the district attorney offices publicly vowed not to “vigorously prosecute” abortion lawbreakers. They had always had the leeway to choose which cases to prosecute in general.
Texas lawmakers took exception to the DA’s decision to formulate a policy against abortion prosecutions, though. And that gave rise to the new legislation.
Under Senate Bill 20, prosecutors are forbidden from adopting an overarching policy refusing to prosecute certain types of crimes.
Though the language of the bill encompasses crimes of all types, there is little doubt it was targeted at making sure abortion laws were enforced.
A Scare Tactic
And Miriam Krinsky, executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution, is ready to call out Texas lawmakers and make sure everyone knows what’s going on.
The new law isn’t really about enforcing laws across the board, Krinsky says.
Instead, it’s all about making sure that there is a clear avenue for enforcing abortion laws in particular and further eroding rights around women’s choices.
As Krinsky puts it, the new law is nothing more than a scare tactic to try and force prosecutors into going after anyone who runs afoul of the state’s abortion laws.
This may just be the latest salvo in the ongoing fight between legislators and prosecutors over abortion rights.
DA’s Pledge to Not Prosecute
Immediately after the Supreme Court’s ruling in June of 2022, some 90 prosecutors across the nation vowed to not prosecute abortion-law violators.
That came as a concerted effort in a joint statement released by Fair and Just Prosecution where the DA’s pledged to, in part, “refrain from prosecuting those who seek, provide, or support abortions.”
Just five of those original pledgers were Texas prosecutors, which means there are plenty of others from other states who took the vow.
Will those other DA’s soon be subject to the same sort of restrictive law that Texas just slapped on its prosecutors?
Only time will tell, but the next maneuver in the fight over abortion rights is always just around the corner.
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