In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg joined 83 elected prosecutors from around the nation in committing to use their discretion and refuse to prosecute those who seek or assist in providing abortions.
Satterberg called the recent Supreme Court decision “an affront to 50 years of settled jurisprudence” and a “fundamental attack” on access to reproductive healthcare.
“While Washington state has strong protections for abortion rights independent of the United States Constitution, there will be continued efforts to not only weaken those laws, but also potentially punish Washington state healthcare providers who serve clients from states where abortion services are now illegal,” Satterberg said.
Satterberg also claimed that the court’s decision signaled a potential future path where other critical privacy interests such as same-sex marriage, contraception and sexual privacy are potentially at risk.
“As King County’s Prosecuting Attorney, I want to reassure the people of King County that my commitment on the issue of reproductive rights is unwavering: I have never — and will never — use my discretion to criminalize personal medical decisions,” said Satterberg in a statement. “As a private and concerned citizen, I will also continue to support other organizations fighting for human dignity and fundamental privacy from governmental overreach into our lives.”
Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, the collection of prosecutors expects abortion to be banned in at least 26 states. A recent law in Oklahoma makes it a felony to provide abortions, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, with no exceptions for rape or incest. Bans in Missouri, Tennessee and Utah carry sentences of up to 15 years for providers of abortion care.
The statement from the prosecutors also emphasizes how abortion bans disproportionately harm victims of sexual abuse, rape, incest, human trafficking and domestic violence, and that many anti-abortion laws either do not provide exceptions for victims of sexual violence or force survivors to choose between reporting their assault or carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term.