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Durham district attorney signs on to letter vowing not to prosecute abortion cases

Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry has signed on to a letter vowing not to prosecute abortion cases in her district.

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By
Sydney Franklin
, WRAL multiplatform producer
DURHAM, N.C. — Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry has signed on to a letter vowing not to prosecute abortion cases in her district.
The letter was released by Fair and Just Prosecution, a network of elected prosecutors that promotes "a justice system grounded in fairness, equity, compassion and fiscal responsibility," and was in response to the Supreme Court's decision last week to end constitutional protections for abortion that had in in place for almost 50 years.
Dozens of prosecutors, including those located in Texas, Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi, have signed the letter.

In the letter, prosecutors said while they might disagree on a personal or moral level about the issue, they did not believe in prosecuting cases related to abortion.

"We stand together in our firm belief that prosecutors have a responsibility to refrain from using limited criminal legal system resources to criminalize personal medical decisions," the letter said.

The letter went on to state that prosecutors believed "enforcing abortion bans runs counter to the obligations and interests" they are sworn to uphold.

"Criminalizing abortion will not end abortion; it will simply end safe abortion, forcing the most vulnerable among us - as well as medical providers - to make impossible decisions," the letter stated.

The letter said the legal system is already burdened, and adding fear of prosecution will cause people to not seek help.

"Abortion bans will also disproportionately harm victims of sexual abuse, rape, incest, human trafficking and domestic violence," the letter said.

The letter also states prosecutors were "horrified" at states that do not have exceptions for victims of rape or incest to receive an abortion. Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Utah do not have exceptions.

"Laws that revictimize and retraumatize victims go against our obligation as prosecutors to protect and seek justice on behalf of all members of our community, including those who are often the most vulnerable and least empowered," the letter said.

North Carolina currently has a 20-week ban, which means someone can get an abortion up to five months into a pregnancy.

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice; prosecutors should not be a part of that," the letter concludes.