TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas — Travis County District Attorney José Garza is responding to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and discussing what will happen in Travis County once the state's "trigger law" on abortion goes into effect.
The "trigger law" bans abortions in Texas 30 days after the Supreme Court makes an official judgment on Roe v. Wade. On Friday, the court gave an opinion overturning the historic case, thereby ending the constitutional right to abortion.
"Making abortion illegal will not end abortions; it will simply end safe abortions for too many," Garza said in a statement Friday. "Threatening women who seek abortion services and their medical providers with prosecution will only drive women to seek out dangerous alternatives and avoid necessary medical care, which will lead to higher rates of preventable maternal death."
Garza said protecting the community is "the number one responsibility and job of any district attorney." He also stated that he and his office will not prosecute abortion-related cases.
"Our communities are safer when women and families can make personal health care and reproductive decisions without the threat of interference from the state," Garza said at a press conference on Monday. "We will not force women into the shadows, especially when they need lifesaving medical care here in Travis County. We will not criminalize personal health care decisions. If you need medical assistance, I implore you to seek it."
"We have been incredibly clear over the last several weeks that we will not prosecute people who seek abortions or people who provide abortion services," Garza said later in the press conference. "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."
During the press conference, Erin Martinson, director of the special victims division of the DA's office, shared some statistics to illustrate the office's stance on the high court's decision.
"One in three women in our communities will experience intimate partner and sexual violence during their lifetime. Of those women, 5% will become pregnant after their attack. And the research shows that violence escalates in severity and frequency when a woman is pregnant," Martinson said. "The single most dangerous time for a victim of intimate partner violence is when she attempts to leave her abuser. And you can imagine violence during pregnancy has devastating effects on maternal health. And now, 100% of victims in Texas do not have access to safe abortions."
Later in the press conference, Martinson vowed that the DA's office will continue to fight for victims.
"To all the women listening and watching today, we see you. We know that you're feeling helpless and distraught. Rest assured, we will not prosecute you for making decisions about safety and for terminating from the pain of carrying a child conceived in rage," Martinson said. "We will continue to do everything we can to help you fight, to help you find safety, because you deserve to be treated with dignity. You deserve to be able to make decisions that are best for you and your body. And you deserve to live free from violence."
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