Jefferson Co. District Attorney joins growing list of prosecutors who won’t prosecute abortions

Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 8:46 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr has joined the growing list of elected prosecutors who say they won’t criminalize or prosecute individuals who seek or provide abortion care.

But does he have the legal authority to do this?

The Supreme Court just announced its ruling on abortion last Friday, so no one has been prosecuted under this law yet.

But the professor we spoke to Tuesday said there’s going to be a lot of uncertainty surrounding this landmark decision in the coming days.

“There are laws on the books right now.”

Adjunct Professor for the Birmingham School of Law, John Lentine, said those caught performing abortions in Alabama can spend years behind bars.

“An abortion performed in violation of this chapter is a Class A felony. A class A felony carries a sentence ranging from 10 years to life, no more than 99 years,” Lentine said.

He said an attempted abortion is a Class C felony, which carries a year and one day to 10 years in prison sentence.

The criminal codes have been on the Alabama books for nearly three years, but have since sat dormant.

Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe vs. Wade, those laws can be enforced.

“It’s not just what the triggering strategy says in this state, it’s what the Alabama legislature can do over the next year in pushing the envelope in regard to this decision. The Supreme Court’s decision to the maximum and that is trying to, you know, outlaw any aspect of it, or it somehow, you know, become big brother over the women in the state of Alabama,” Lentine explained.

D.A. Danny Carr has joined the list of nearly 90 elected prosecutors from 29 states who said they won’t prosecute those who seek, provide, or support abortions, but he might not have the final word.

“Above all of the District Attorney’s is the Attorney General of the state of Alabama and if a prosecution declined by a county district attorney, there is a question about whether or not the state of Alabama would pick up that prosecution and prosecute it on behalf of the Attorney General’s office on behalf of the state,” Lentine said.

State’s Attorney General Steve Marshall was unavailable for an interview Tuesday, but in a statement, a spokesman from his office said: “The Attorney General’s job is to enforce the state’s laws.” He went on to say, “Should a District Attorney refuse to enforce Alabama law, the Attorney General may step in to prosecute the case.”

And as a law enforcement agency, the spokesman would not disclose the methods of enforcement.


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