AUSTIN, Texas - Travis County District Attorney José Garza held a news conference to talk about the direct impact of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Garza was joined by TCDAO Director of Special Victims Unit Erin Martinson, TCDAO Director of Victim Services Unit Neva Fernandez, and abortion rights advocates.
"We will not prosecute people who seek abortions or people who provide abortion services," said Travis County District Attorney José Garza.
Garza is one of five district attorneys in Texas that publicly promised that they would not pursue abortion-related criminal charges if Roe v. Wade was overturned. The other counties beside Travis are Dallas, Bexar, Nueces, and Fort Bend.
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With Roe v. Wade overturned, Texas’ trigger law makes it a felony to "knowingly perform, attempt or induce an abortion." The law only makes exceptions to save the life of a pregnant person.
"The role of the prosecutor is to see that justice is done," said Garza. "It’s important to understand why this is the right choice for our community — because we do not want women in our community suffering at home or dying because they are too afraid to go to the hospital to get the care that they need."
Neva Fernandez, who heads the District Attorney’s Office’s Victim Services Division, says the legislation, which makes no exceptions for rape or incest, has "dire" consequences for survivors.
"Make no mistake, this office has absolutely seen crime victims as young as 10 years old, impregnated by their rapists," Fernandez said. "A child who was raped by a stranger or her uncle or yes, even her father will be forced to carry that pregnancy to term. The little girl who should be eating spaghetti at the school cafeteria and playing tag during recess will be forced to leave school at 10, 11, 12-years-old to carry a baby in her own tiny child's body."
Still, even without enforcement from Garza’s office the State Attorney General’s Office is required to file a civil suit for at least $100,000 and revoke the license of any health care provider involved in an abortion
Anti-abortion groups, such as Texas Right to Life, are pushing to expand the Heart Beat Act’s enforcement mechanism which enables private citizens to file abortion related lawsuits.
"So that we can, we cannot be dependent on these lawless DA’s who are already saying they’re not going to enforce our law," said Rebecca Parma of Texas Right to Life.
FOX 7 Austin asked Travis County Judge Andy Brown about Parma’s statement. He replied, "Our job is to protect the health and safety and promote the health and safety of people here in Travis County….So that's what we do. That's what we're going to keep doing. And, you know, some extreme right wing group that says we shouldn't keep doing that. It's not something on my radar."