Where Things Stand: Groundswell Of Prosecutors Are Refusing To Prosecute

This is your TPM evening briefing.
RENO, NEVADA, UNITED STATES - 2022/06/28: A protester hold an anti-capitalist protest sign during the demonstration. Protestors gathered in front of a federal court house to protest the overturning of Roe V Wade. (Ph... RENO, NEVADA, UNITED STATES - 2022/06/28: A protester hold an anti-capitalist protest sign during the demonstration. Protestors gathered in front of a federal court house to protest the overturning of Roe V Wade. (Photo by Ty O'Neil/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) MORE LESS
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

Planning ahead for the eventual demise of Roe, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) filed a lawsuit earlier this year against 13 county prosecutors in her state to preemptively challenge the 1930s-era abortion ban on the books in Michigan. Her logic was simple — once Roe was ultimately overturned the century-old law would immediately go into effect, giving those 13 county prosecutors — who oversee the 13 counties in the state that house abortion clinics — the authority to charge people who violate the old-school ban.

Whitmer also asked the state Supreme Court to strike down the outdated law — which is super extreme, outlawing performing an abortion in all cases except when the pregnant person’s life is in danger — and has taken steps to codify abortion rights into Michigan’s state constitution.

When Whitmer announced her lawsuit, more than half of those prosecutors targeted with the legal challenge signed a statement saying they supported Whitmer’s lawsuit and would not enforce the abortion law if and when it went into effect.

Now that Roe is overturned and there are few legal avenues at the moment for protecting abortion access at the state level, especially in red states, prosecutors, attorneys general and district attorneys across the nation are following those Michigan prosecutors lead.

Since Roe’s overturning on Friday, dozens of local prosecutors around the U.S. have issued statements vowing not to prosecute people who seek abortions, or perform them or help people get them. Additionally on Friday, 88 elected prosecutors signed a statement promising not to prosecute abortion cases. The group consisted mostly of attorneys general and district attorney from blue and red states, including some from Georgia and Texas, which have some of the most strict bans on the books.

Those who signed onto the statement said that charging people for abortion care would be a “mockery of justice.”

“Not all of us agree on a personal or moral level on the issue of abortion,” they wrote. “But we stand together in our firm belief that prosecutors have a responsibility to refrain from using limited criminal legal system resources to criminalize personal medical decisions.”

The banding together is significant, especially as we head into the Midterms and fears swell about what Republicans might do with their power if they retake Congress. Some Republicans are mulling a federal abortion ban now that Roe is out of the way.

While it should not have to be this way, if a national ban were to happen, the values and politics of local officials will take on new life, as states and municipalities will likely move to establish safe havens for abortion access — think: the role that sanctuary cities played in protecting undocumented immigrants.

How your local prosecutor feels about abortion rights will hold new significance.

The Best Of TPM Today

Here’s what you should read this evening:

How Hutchinson Converted Skeptics To Thinking Trump Might Be Prosecuted After All

Ginni Thomas Lawyer Asks Jan 6 Panel For ‘Better Justification’ For Testimony

New from ProPublica: How Boise State University Is Bowing to a Conservative Crusade

Eastman Is Done Fighting Jan 6 Panel Request For Call Logs

Sad: Colorado Election Deniers Had A Bad GOP Primary Night

In case you missed it this morning: Tina Peters Loses GOP Primary For Colorado Secretary Of State

Yesterday’s Most Read Story

Meadows’ Closest Aide Testifies Publicly During Surprise Jan. 6 Hearing — TPM Staff

What We Are Reading

68% of US Catholics say Roe should be left alone, poll says — National Catholic Reporter

When Brazil Banned Abortion Pills, Women Turned to Drug Traffickers — Stephanie Nolen

Georgia Tech hotel hosting conference by election deniers — Chris Joyner

Latest Editors' Blog
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: