As Roe v Wade faces a direct challenge, criminal defense attorneys, prosecutors, local judges and cops begin to lay out what it would look like to criminalize abortion.
“States are laying the groundwork now, and have been laying the groundwork for criminal penalties that are completely different,” than the pre-Roe era, said Lindsay A Lewis, a criminal defense attorney in New York who co-authored a report on abortion for the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys (NACDL), the first such report in the organization’s history.
“They are so much more advanced, and so much harsher than what existed before Roe was enacted.”
State legislatures have spent recent decades “modifying their criminal codes” in ways that “completely changes the calculus when it comes to what it would mean to go back to pre-Roe times,” said Lewis.
Criminal charges could come from specific abortion laws, but also from criminal codes that penalize attempted crimes, conspiracies and accomplices to crime, all relics laws developed during the US’s so-called war on drugs. Those laws “could subject a wide range of individuals to criminal penalties if Roe is overturned”, the NACDL report outlines, including prosecuting people from states where the procedure is illegal who attempt to seek abortions in states where it remains legal.
As Lewis and her co-authors laid out, there are thousands of laws like Louisiana’s across the country. What’s more, recent prosecutions of pregnant people also show how digital evidence can be used as powerful prosecutorial tools.Source: The Guardian