'We Cannot Put People in Jail for This': Prosecutors Grapple With New Abortion Bans

May 22, 2019 AT 8:15 AM

By Isaac Stanley-Becker

The facts at first seem unambiguous: A motorist is caught with five pounds of methamphetamines, a Schedule II controlled substance under Utah’s strict drug laws.

But Sim Gill, Salt Lake County’s district attorney, would decline to pursue such a hypothetical case if he discovered that the search had been unlawful — conducted without a warrant or in the absence of a reasonable suspicion that a traffic law had been breached.

Prosecutors should apply similar discretion, Gill argues, and refuse to bring charges under a wave of new abortion restrictions that plainly contradict Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s 1973 verdict that a woman has a constitutional right to choose whether to bear a child.

“We do this all the time, deciding that we have an ethical duty not to prosecute a case because it would be in violation of a constitutional protection afforded to citizens,” Gill, a Democrat, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “What’s new here is that this is an area, abortion, that we typically don’t find ourselves in, because the procedure has not been criminalized like this in recent history.”

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