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Bexar County DA plans — but can't pledge — to not prosecute abortions

Bri Kirkham
Texas Public Radio
Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales says he does not plan on prosecuting people who get abortions following the Supreme Court overruling of Roe v. Wade.

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Two hours after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said he will work to protect reproductive freedom.

However, he could not promise that he wouldn’t prosecute providers of illegal abortions in his jurisdiction.

“Absent aggravating circumstances, my plan is is to review each case and make that decision on a case by case basis. But I'm here to say that again, that my obligation is to seek justice. I do not believe that that there's any justice in prosecuting this case, these cases,” Gonzales said.

He selected his words carefully because he could face severe sanctions — including removal from office — if he is seen as overtly refusing to enforce the law.

“We are an agency that does not initiate investigation," Gonzales explained. "So we have to rely on law enforcement, investigating a case and bringing it to our office. I suspect that this would be no different. So members of the law enforcement community in this county would have to receive a complaint, would have to investigate and would have to file a case with us before we could make any decision about what to do with a case like that.”

He added that he has not had conversations with the San Antonio Police Department or the Bexar County Sheriff's Office about their plans for investigating illegal abortions.

Gonzales said in 30 days the Texas trigger law kicks in, so doctors who perform an illegal abortion could face up to life in prison. However, he said many other district attorneys in Texas share a reluctance to bring those cases to trial.

“For example, I know the, the prosecutor in Travis County ... Galveston County, and I believe even Dallas County and Fort Bend County, have all indicated that ... they don't plan to engage in this kind of prosecution,” he said.

Gonzales seeks reelection. He said he's comfortable taking this position as a Democrat.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi