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'I am vowing not to prosecute,' DeKalb District Attorney says of Georgia's abortion law

DA Boston said prosecutorial discretion is not a new concept.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — The Supreme Court released its ruling Friday to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling. The decision will have wide-ranging implications in Georgia with its own restrictive abortion law. 

HB 481 or Georgia's Heartbeat Bill bans abortions when a "fetal" heartbeat can be detected - at about six weeks into a pregnancy.

11Alive spoke to Dekalb County's District Attorney, Sherry Boston who explains what the ruling could mean for Georgians. 

Boston said that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals was awaiting the Supreme Court's decision on Roe v. Wade before finally ruling on the legality behind HB 481.

RELATED: What happens to Georgia's heartbeat law now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned?

Since the Supreme Court ruled that there is no longer federal access to abortion, the 11th Circuit would clear the way for Georgia’s law to take effect.

"I would expect now that the 11th circuit will take back up the Georgia Heartbeat Bill and I would expect them, given the Supreme Court's precedent to allow Georgia's heartbeat bill to go into effect immediately," said Boston. 

Boston informs 11Alive that she has yet to hear from any providers about what their plans may be after the SCOTUS decision but that her community is on alert for any fallout that may impact them.

"I've heard from members of my community that were concerned and now, today in this very dark hour, in these very dark days are wondering what will happen if they seek safe abortions today," she said. 

Boston has served as the district attorney for Dekalb County since 2017 and explains the devastation felt as a prosecutor over the SCOTUS ruling. 

"It is devastating, to have to, as a prosecutor, speak with people about this idea of choosing perhaps life-saving decisions for them personally or face potential criminal prosecution," she said.

In a prepared statement, Boston said her office does not plan to prosecute people who may face criminal charges if Georgia's abortion law is enacted.

"It is my contention that law enforcement and prosecutors should not be thrust into this health space, regardless of the legislation on the books. As such, as the elected District Attorney with charging discretion for the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit (DeKalb County), I am vowing not to prosecute individuals pursuant to HB 481. I believe it is a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her own body and medical care, including, but not limited to, obtaining an abortion," the statement reads.



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