ABA Opposes Criminal Prosecution After Abortion or Miscarriage

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On Monday, the American Bar Association House of Delegates passed a resolution, entitled 107A, that opposes the criminal prosecution of anyone who has an abortion or experiences a miscarriage or stillbirth, reports the ABA Journal. Since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, hundreds of people have been criminalized for allegedly having a self-managed abortion, which occurs when a woman ends her own pregnancy using pills, herbal remedies or other methods. They have also been criminalized for other pregnancy outcomes, including miscarriage and stillbirth. While most states do not criminalize individuals who have abortions, at least five—Arizona, Delaware, Nevada, Oklahoma and South Carolina—have bans on self-managed abortion, according to the report that accompanies the resolution. In addition, fetal harm laws, drug laws and other archaic laws have been misused to target women for their pregnancy outcomes.

In recent years, the American Medical Association and other major medical associations recognized that the criminalization of people who self-manage their abortions may prevent them from seeking necessary medical care. More than 50 elected prosecutors joined these associations in their opposition in 2019, writing in a joint statement that they would not prosecute people for having or providing an abortion. Resolution 107A further urges jurisdictions to repeal and oppose laws that criminalize people for terminating a pregnancy and clarify that existing laws may also not be used to prosecute those who have an abortion, miscarriage or stillbirth. “Legal precedent, as established by the highest court in the land, has held for nearly 50 years that women have a right to make decisions about their own medical care, including, but not limited to, seeking an abortion,” the statement said. “Enforcement of laws that criminalize health care decisions would shatter that precedent, impose untenable choices on victims and health care providers, and erode trust in the integrity of our justice system.”

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