It looks like the US Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade and send the issue of abortion rights back to the states. 

If that happens, and Republicans take back a supermajority in North Carolina’s House and Senate, or have majorities and a Republican governor is elected in 2024, abortion will be outlawed in North Carolina in short order. 

Following Politico’s leaked draft of a US Supreme Court opinion outlining a majority of the justices’ arguments to overturn abortion rights, local DAs and DA candidates—with the exception of Wake DA Lorrin Freeman—made firm commitments not to prosecute patients or medical staff who obtain or provide abortions in their respective jurisdictions.

Durham District Attorney Satana Deberry’s office issued the following statement:

Durham DA Satana Deberry issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s draft decision.

— Durham DA’s Office (@durhamncda) May 3, 2022

Jeff Nieman, an assistant district attorney and candidate for the District Attorney’s seat in Chatham and Orange Counties, made a similar commitment:

“Very unsettling news: Uprooting almost 50 years of legal precedent, the Supreme Court will likely overturn Roe v. Wade. A thread,” Nieman wrote on Twitter. “We cannot stand for this assault on women and private reproductive healthcare decisions. Which is why, if elected, I have committed to join more than 60 prosecutors nationwide in this pledge not to prosecute women who obtain abortions nor the health care professionals who perform or assist in these procedures.”

Nieman’s opponent, Kayley Taber, who is also an assistant DA in the Orange/Chatham office, already made a similar commitment to upholding access to reproductive care, pledging not to prosecute to abortion patients and providers in our candidate questionnaire she sent last week, noting that “there is a nationwide movement to enact laws criminalizing access to reproductive care.”

“I have worked closely with women and girls who have been victims of rape and incest for over 23 years,” Taber wrote. “I have seen first-hand the trauma they suffer. I have seen women trapped in relationships with abusers by unwanted pregnancies, and children made into mothers as young as 12. Access to abortion in North Carolina is already restrictive and difficult to access, especially for marginalized communities. Our highest courts have repeatedly found that our Constitution guarantees everyone the right to make personal decisions about family and childbearing. I will honor my oath to uphold our Constitution. I will not be part of revictimizing women and children by prosecuting them for accessing medical care that is appropriate for them, complies with our medical standards of care, and is protected by the Constitution.”

In a text message to the INDY, Wake County DA Lorrin Freeman said she couldn’t comment on prosecuting abortion currently or sign off on an amicus brief as Deberry has. 

“I am currently named in a law suit here in North Carolina brought by Planned Parenthood focused on the constitutionality of five abortion related state laws,” Freeman wrote in the text message. “As such, unfortunately, I am not able to comment on this right now or sign off on any brief.”

Freeman’s opponent, Damon Chetson, says he has previously spoken in favor of the pledge prosecutors are taking not to prosecute abortion patients or providers, adding Tuesday that he commits to the pledge again. 

Read the complaint that names Freeman and several other state leaders below. 

9.2.20 Nc Complaint Final Sig Stamped by Jane Porter on Scribd

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