At a press conference on Monday, Travis County District Attorney José Garza repeated his promise to not prosecute abortions following the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“I promise that I will continue to fight for and protect women’s rights and use my discretion as the district attorney to avoid tragedy and preventable harm in our community,” Garza said.
“We will not prosecute people who seek abortions or people who provide abortion services,” Garza clarified later. “The role of the prosecutor is to see that justice is done, that is the statutory role of the prosecutor, and that means that in every case our duty is not to prosecute but to ensure a just outcome.”
“We do not want women in our community suffering at home or dying because they are too afraid to go to the hospital to get the care they need,” Garza said.
Garza called the overturning of precedent a radical decision by the Supreme Court, which he said has become the definition of activism in the legal system.
The Travis County DA has promised for months to not prosecute abortion in the event that Roe is overturned. Four other district attorneys in Texas, in Dallas, Bexar, Nueces and Fort Bend, have also promised the same.
When asked how he would respond to Gov. Greg Abbott “forcing his hand” to prosecute abortion cases, Garza said the Texas Consitution and Texas Supreme Court are clear that the only office that can prosecute crimes in a local community is the locally-elected district attorney’s office.
Texas’ “trigger law” which will soon ban abortion in the state makes no exceptions for rape or incest.
Since last week’s decision, abortion providers in Texas have stopped offering abortion surgeries or medication as they review any possible legal ramifications to Texas laws that were enacted prior to Roe v. Wade.
Aniva Fernandez, director of victim services division, also spoke at the conference and said the office has often seen child victims of rape, including one 10-year-old girl.
“We prosecuted her assault and she was able to get an abortion at the time,” Fernandez said.
“Access to a safe abortion allowed that girl to take some control over her body back,” Fernandez said. “After Friday’s decision this will no longer be an option for child or adult victims of sexual assualt in Texas.”
Photo: © Texas Signal Media Company
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org