ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell joined several dozen elected prosecutors from around the country in signing a letter vowing not to prosecute or enforce abortion bans in the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Last Friday’s Supreme Court ruling triggered provisions in Missouri House Bill 126 from the state’s 100th General Assembly, making it a felony for a doctor to perform or induce an abortion on a woman except in cases of a medical emergency.
Describing Missouri’s abortion trigger law as “terribly misguided and dangerous,” Bell said a prosecutor’s job is to protect public safety. A qualified medical practitioner providing safe abortion services does not endanger public safety.
“By criminalizing and thereby deregulating abortion, it is the Missouri legislature, not safe and previously legal abortion providers, that has endangered public safety in Missouri,” Bell said in a statement Monday.
At the moment, there are no licensed abortion providers in St. Louis County. Bell said he does not anticipate cases being brought to his office. However, the county prosecutor has declared he will not be a party to such machinations, and that is why he signed the letter from Fair and Just Prosecution.
“Not all of us agree on a personal or moral level on the issue of abortion,” the letter reads. “But 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.”