We are in the midst of a coordinated and well-planned attack on reproductive freedom. Abortion bans in 16 states are threatening to jail and punish pregnant people, scrutinizing every decision a pregnant person makes about their bodies. These laws are a violation of constitutional and human rights and do not uphold the sanctity of life in the slightest.
Abortion bans put pregnant people’s lives at risk. And we know Black, women, trans and gender-nonconforming folks are particularly vulnerable. Black women are already seen as less than human, purveyors of criminality, and unable to make decisions regarding our reproductive health. This perception along with other societal and health system factors is why Black women face the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the country–which makes them even more susceptible to criminalization for their pregnancy outcomes. It’s been happening before the bans in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia were even passed. Right now in Mississippi, Latice Fisher, a young Black mother who was charged with 2nd-degree murder after having a still birth, is fighting for her freedom as she faces life imprisonment and separation from her children. But things could be a lot different for Latice if the District Attorney had never charged her in the first place.
Law enforcement should never be involved in a pregnancy decision. And DAs have the discretion to keep their prosecutors out of maternal health matters. In the wake of the onslaught of abortion ban laws passing, some district attorneys are already taking a stand. District Attorneys across Georgia are refusing to enforce its unconstitutional abortion ban and Salt Lake County Attorney Sim Gill has declared that he will not enforce a Utah measure banning abortions after 18 weeks. Here’s why: criminalization discourages women who want an abortion or are experiencing pregnancy loss or complications from seeking medical care for fear of arrest and punishment.
Black women die from pregnancy complications at 3 to 4 times the rate of white women. And we cannot afford to add incarceration to the list of reasons our people avoid seeking medical care. That’s why we’re calling on district attorneys across the country to use their discretion and refuse to prosecute abortion, pregnancy loss or any other pregnancy decision. With your help, as a part of our national movement to hold prosecutors accountable to their communities, we can push them to uphold real justice and let women, trans and gender non-conforming people make their own decisions for their own bodies. Will you sign the petition to push your district attorney in the right direction?
Here is the Petition:
To local prosecutors:
We are calling on you to refuse to enforce laws that criminalize women based on their pregnancy outcomes and use your discretion to decline to prosecute. We urge you to create and advocate for safer and better policies and solutions to that uphold a woman’s fundamental right to reproductive freedom.
Salt Lake County Attorney Sim Gill has stated that he will not enforce a Utah measure banning abortions after 18 weeks. We are calling on you to take on this same level of leadership, and not give in to extremist political pressure that would restrict a woman’s basic rights and bodily freedom.
As a prosecutor, you have the power and responsibility to enact policies and infrastructure that would discourage police officers from making arrests of pregnant women based on the circumstances of their births and remove the fear that an abortion, miscarriage, stillborn, or other possible variation of a pregnancy outcome could result in a prison sentence. We are calling on you to take a proactive stand and end the practice of criminalizing women based on their pregnancy outcomes.
Now is your chance to take the right step in enforcing full humane lives for women.
Until justice is real,
–Clarise, Rashad, Arisha, Scott, Erika, Kristen M., Marybeth, Marena, Leonard, Kristen P., Madison, Tamar and the rest of the Color Of Change team
1. “Alabama’s anti-abortion law isn’t alone. Here are all the states pushing to restrict access.” CNN, 16 May 2019. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/135858?t=13&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf
2. “Mississippi Woman Criminally Charged for Pregnancy Outcome After Home Birth (Updated).” Rewire News, 6 February 2018. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/135859?t=15&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf
3. “District attorneys from across metro Atlanta say they won’t prosecute women for abortions.” 11 Alive, 17 May 2019. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/135860?t=17&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf
4. “Salt Lake district attorney says he won’t enforce Utah’s abortion ban.” The Hill, 15 May 2019. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/135861?t=19&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf
5. Reproductive Health. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 February 2019. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/135871?t=21&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf
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7. “Women’s Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2018.” Prison Policy Initiative, 13 November 2018. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/135862?t=25&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf
9. “The History Of American Slavery: “Good Breeders.” Slate, 24 August 2015. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/135867?t=27&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf
10. ‘Father Of Gynecology,’ Who Experimented On Slaves, No Longer On Pedestal In NYC.” NPR, 17 August 2018. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/135868?t=29&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf)
11. “Forced and Coerced Sterilization: The Nightmare of Transgender and Intersex Individuals.” Impakter, 4 February 2016. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/135869?t=31&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf
12. “The Moynihan Report Is Turning 50. Its Ideas on Black Poverty Were Wrong Then and Are Wrong Now.” In These Times, 30 June 2015. http://act.colorofchange.org/go/135864?t=33&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf
14. “Black women and the fight for abortion rights: How this brochure sparked the movement for reproductive freedom.” MSNBC, 25 March 2019. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/135870?t=35&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf